NEW ORLEANS—On Friday morning, Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott half-jokingly revealed that he had secretly thought about the idea of Kobe Bryant playing all 48 minutes in the 20-year NBA superstar's final game. On Friday night, Bryant laughed off the idea and said that would only be possible in a video game like NBA 2K16.
"We both (Scott and Bryant) know, right? I can play a certain amount of minutes, then sit down, then come back and kind of play," Bryant didn't take the concept entirely seriously. "I gave it all I have, but damn, I've been here for 20 years. You've seen a lot of [expletive] already."
When pressed on whether 48 minutes for the 37-year-old were even a possibility, Bryant laughed and referenced the video game nature of that idea, "What? Man, stop it. No. No, unless you're play on 2K or something."
Bryant appears conscious of his present reality, physically and mentally. After starting his final NBA road trip in New Orleans, Bryant was asked about what greater meaning he derived from the standing ovations and the cheers he heard in seemingly every NBA arena on his final go-around.
"The game is bigger than scoring points and winning championships," Bryant responded to NBC.com's question. "It's really about 'have you been able to move somebody or inspire for a brief moment to want to be a better version of themselves?' Hopefully, I've done that."
The same player that once said "Friends come and go, but banners hang forever" offered a drastically different perspective this time around.
"That's what the game is really all about," Bryant continued. "When you retire and the championship trophies are just sitting there and dust collects on them and all sort of stuff, you really want to create something [that] stands the test of time, moves somebody."
On Sunday, Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers wake up in Houston, and the 37-year-old superstar expects to suit up against former teammate Trevor Ariza one last time. With only three games remaining, Bryant's 20-year NBA journey is only four days away from its conclusion.
The Lakers and Rockets tip-off at 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time.