It was one of the more amazing and surreal moments of the NBA season: In the final minutes of his 20-year NBA career Kobe Bryant transformed one more time into vintage Kobe, sparking a 14-0 run that led the Lakers to a 101-96 win against the Utah Jazz. Staples Center hadn’t been that electric since the 2010 NBA finals, it was unlike any regular season game I’ve ever been to.
Gordon Hayward admitted a lot of the Jazz were in shock.
The experience was unlike any game he had been a part of and he admitted as much on his personal blog.
And when the game started, the atmosphere was different from anything I’ve ever experienced. Everyone in the arena was excited whenever he touched the ball. And every time Kobe got it, they wanted him to shoot it, and they were booing us for even trying to defend him.
We were trying to win, and for a while there we were. But at the end of the game, in the closing minutes, everything that transpired kind of shocked us, to be honest. We were up double digits for most of the second half, and we led by 10 with about three minutes to go. So when Kobe started hitting shots and the game started to get close, a lot of us were in shock.
It was like being a part of a showcase, or being in a video game. There wasn’t really much normality about it. A guy scored 60 points and took 50 shots. There was something different as far as his aggressiveness. I think every time he touched it, you knew he was going to try to shoot it, or try to score, or try to get something going. He’s always an aggressive player, but that night, he was ultra-aggressive and tried to score on every single possession.
It wasn’t normal. It was amazing and now part of the Kobe legacy, but it wasn’t normal.
It’s also a story Gordon is going to tell his kids and grandkids. It was that kind of a night.