Presented as a movie script, Kobe Bryant's final game would be too unbelievable to make into a film.
Bryant scored 60 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers in an incredible comeback victory to cap off an NBA career that was defined by scoring as much as it was by winning. On this night, the 37-year-old did both, as he scored 44 points in the second half, including 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead LA to victory over the Utah Jazz, 101-96.
"That man gave everything he had for 20 years and he did it again tonight," Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the game.
Scott added, "For some reason, it just didn't surprise me that this is the way he'd go out."
One person who was surprised by the ending was the man of the hour.
"I can't believe this actually happened, to be honest with you,” Bryant said after the game, still wearing his game jersey. "It's kind of crazy to me. It's hard to believe that it happened this way. I'm still in shock about it."
The night started innocuously enough. As he had done in each of his previous three games, Bryant played the entirety of the first quarter. This time, Bryant started by missing his first five shots, as the 37-year-old struggled to get off the mark and even missed a layup. For a moment, Bryant's farewell appeared headed for disaster.
However, one made basket changed all that.
The roof came off the building, and the lid came off the basket. Bryant scored 15 points in the first quarter, as he led the Utah Jazz 15-14 at one point. The fans continued to scream and holler throughout the night, as Bryant launched shot after shot, exhibiting the famous short-term memory that ranked him no. 3 on the NBA's all-time scoring chart.
By halftime, Bryant had 22 points, and one last 40-point game appeared to be a possibility. However, the Utah Jazz led by 15 points at the break with Trey Lyles leading the way with 11 points.
In the third period, Bryant played the entirety of the third quarter and added another 15 points to arrive at 37 points for the game. At that stage, reaching 40 points did not even seem to be in question. But could he reach 50? 60?
With 12 minutes remaining in his NBA career, Bryant opted to stay in the game. Shortly thereafter, the 37-year-old hit a three-pointer to record his 135th 40-point game. Truly, one of the greatest scorers of all time guaranteed that he would go out with yet another unforgettable performance, but he wasn't done yet.
Bryant scored 20 more points to arrive at 60 points for the game, as he outscored the Utah Jazz 23-21 in the fourth quarter. On the night, Bryant shot 22/50 for 60 points, four rebounds and four assists in 42 minutes.
Exhausted, Bryant finally called time on his career on a Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
"I'm extremely happy. This is a very joyful day," Bryant said. "I will never play an NBA game again."