Kobe Bryant'south final game: 'It hasn't really hit me yet'

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 1:57 PM

At thirty-seventh, he's played his all career with the LA Lakers, winning five championships. The Lakers have the residence Ct advantage against the UT Jazz at 10:30 p.

Kobe Bryant'south final game: 'It hasn't really hit me yet'

Has it really been twenty years?

On Wednesday, Kobe Bryant will get the floor as an NBA player for the final time. At thirty-seventh, he'south played his all career with the LA Lakers, winning five championships. The Lakers have the residence Ct advantage against the UT Jazz at 10:thirty p. m. ET.

After his final road game Monday, Bryant described how much it's meant to have the career he'south had in a Lakers' uniform.

"It means everything," the Philadelphia native and likely future Corridor of Famer said. "I grew up a die-hard Laker fan. It'south love a dream arrive true, for a kid to grow up, play for his favorite team and play here for twenty years, his all career. I've seen the city grow. I've seen the city expand and vice versa. There'south number space I'd rather finish my career."

Bryant announced this season would be his latest in a poignant letter written in the form of a poem on The Players' Tribune in November.

Additionally, Bryant'south numbers have dipped. This season has been his worst shooting year in terms of field-goal percentage. Injuries have slowed him down.

For three consecutive years, his season was ended by injury. There was the ruptured Achilles tendon in April two thousand thirteen. In two thousand-fourteenth, he missed all but six games after breaking a bone close his left knee. And then a torn right rotator cuff in January two thousand fifteen required surgery.

And while he's played through injuries in the past, the wear and tear has become evident, with an periodic night off needed for rest. But as the finish has approached, Bryant has done his best to play through pain so fans across the country can look him one last time.

That ends Wednesday at the Staples Middle in Los Angeles.

Finish of an era

Bryant has been a enormous draw at residence and on the road. Throughout the season, he's received gifts, video tributes and standing ovations from the opposing crowd.

Monday was number different in OK City, Bryant'south final road game. While he looked love he was in his prime in the first quarter with thirteen points, he didn't score the rest of the night in what was another blowout loss for the Lakers, 112-79.

Bryant fans came out to Chesapeake Energy Arena in droves. Even when the game was out of reach, the crowd roared in the fourth quarter, "We wish Kobe!" and "Kobe! Kobe!" Bryant, meanwhile, remained on the bench, smiling, with his shoulder wrapped.

He said after the game he'd been tempted to arrive back in, but he knew he shouldn't.

"I couldn't move, man," Bryant said. "I played in the first quarter. I tried to give it all I had... I tried to loosen up in the locker room coming out for the second half. I couldn't move well at all."

Lakers head coach Byron Scott said he didn't consider putting Bryant back in the game for a curtain call, instead looking ahead to Los Angeles.

"I wasn't thinking about it at all," Scott said. "We were down 30 points. I wasn't going to keep him in for a minute. At the six-minute mark, or something love that, in the third quarter, and he was coming toward the sideline, and I asked him how he felt. He was kind of like, `I'm all right.' I said, `Well, let'south just finish this right presently and just obtain you prepared for Wednesday.' There was number argument there whatsoever. He just knew that at that specific time he was done."

Will Bryant hold his emotions in check in his final game? Asked in OK City about his feelings heading into Wednesday, he said he wasn't sure but he feels excited and looks forward to lacing up one more time.

"Tough to say," Bryant said. "We'll look Wednesday. So distant I've been beautiful chilly about everything. I've been very thankful about everything, been very pleased about everything. It hasn't really hit me yet. We'll look if it does."

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