The Staples Center sets merchandising record after Kobe Bryant's retirement game

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The climax of Kobe Bryant's storied career was certainly one worth waiting for when he played for the final time at the Staples Center on Wednesday night.

The Lakers only manage to win 17 games out of a long and arduous 82 game regular season, and their struggles often put a downer on Bryant's season-long retirement tour.

However, the Black Mamba has always remained at the forefront of the fans minds whatever team they follow.

Kobe has garnered heart-warming responses everywhere he went this season, but there was always going to be something special about his final appearance at the Staples Center.

Sean Ryan, AEG vice president of merchandise, told ESPN that on Wednesday night alone, the Staples Center sold $1.2 million worth of Kobe merchandise before and after the 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz.

The '24 collection' as it was branded, blitzed the previous record held by Led Zepplin, said Ryan. The English rock band shifted $1 million worth in London at the 02 Arena back on December 10, 2007, as the group played their first full-length concert in 30 years.

Ryan believes that AEG gave the fans an opportunity to be a part of Kobe's final endeavour, but not even they could have predicted this record-setting profit.

"The 24 Collection started with a vision of gold and diamonds and how this translated with the fans of Los Angeles," Ryan said. "We wanted every person who purchased with us the opportunity to have a piece which was special for the moment. The support and buy-in exceeded our expectations."

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Ryan also said that the average fan inside the Staples Center spent $61 on merchandise alone. However, with all the profit, there was plenty of commemorative giveaways on hand, too.

ESPN reported that each person with a ticket at Wednesday's game got a Kobe ticket holder with a lanyard, a commemorative book and a Nike T-shirt. Courtside ticket holders - like Jack Nicholson - got six different shirts and a hat, and 20 ticket holders were gifted limited-edition Kobe shoes with Wednesday's date on it.

When asked about the fans incredible appetite for his memorabilia, Bryant had to chuckle.

"It says that fans are really appreciative of this moment and wanted to maybe have something they can remember," Bryant said.

Bryant certainly gave them something to remember. The 37-year-old poured down 60 points in his last ever match and set a record for points scored by a player of his age in a game.

Vino might also have a career in marketing if his end of game speech is anything to go by.

After signing off his speech with the words "Mamba Out," minutes later, "Mamba Out" T-shirts, in three colours, were being offered on his official website for $25 each.

Premeditated genius or coincidence?

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L.A. Lakers
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Kobe Bryant
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