Kobe Bryant came into the NBA as a precocious teen prodigy, a fresh-faced 17-year-old who decided to skip college in order to slam dunk as a professional.
After landing in Los Angeles following a trade between the Charlotte Hornets and the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant's career has spanned two decades and will culminate Wednesday as he plays his final game against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Since announcing his retirement in November, Bryant has received words of encouragement and tributes on social media from current and former Lakers players, NBA team opponents, coaches and analysts.
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Former Los Angeles Lakers great Earvin "Magic" Johnson tweeted an open letter to Bryant on Wednesday morning, in which he said he has watched him "dominate the game of basketball" for 20 years.
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One of Wednesday's trending Twitter hashtags was #MambaDay, which was promoted by Nike on the social media platform.
Bryant will hang up his jersey after his 1,566th NBA game – regular season and playoffs. The storybook ending for one of LA's most notable athletes will include a pregame speech by Magic, a rock-n-roll instrumental national anthem by Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and an extended video tribute from the Lakers.
The fanfare will begin with a pregame show at 7:25 p.m.