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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Historic night in the NBA for Curry, Kobe

What an amazing night for basketball.

That was the phrase spoken and tweeted out many times on April 13 as two huge storylines unfolded at the exact same time: Golden State looking to break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls all-time regular season wins record as well as guard Kobe Bryant playing his final game in the Staples Center after his 20-year career as a Los Angeles Laker.

Neither storyline disappointed.

Going into the night, Golden State stood with 72 wins, tied with that ’95-96 Bulls team that was led by the likes of Michael Jordan. It was a record that has stood for two decades that was never going to be touched, or so everyone thought.

It had been a headline all season as the Warriors chased 73. Behind the 2014-15 Most Valuable Player and guard Stephen Curry, the Warriors would put on a basketball clinic almost each night.

Curry ended his regular season by making 10 three-pointers and putting up 46 points in that 73rd win against the Memphis Grizzlies. He also passed the 400 made three-pointers mark on the year, completely shattering the record that he set just last year.

“I just try to keep getting better,” said Curry. “I just want to keep pushing myself.”

Curry capped off what is likely to be his second-straight MVP campaign in style, but there was another player about 400 miles southeast of Oakland in Los Angeles that stole most of the night’s headlines.

That player was the Black Mamba.

With April 13 being “Mamba Day,” Bryant and Lakers were taking on the Utah Jazz in a game between two teams that were not going to make the playoffs. But that did not matter, as one of the game’s greats was taking the floor for the final time.

There was a multitude of pre-game festivities, including a video showing Bryant’s journey as a Laker. Following the video, Earvin “Magic” Johnson took the floor prior to introductions to offer his thoughts on Bryant.

“We are here to celebrate greatness for 20 years,” said Johnson to the sold-out crowd. “Excellence for 20 years. Kobe Bryant has never cheated the game, never cheated us as the fans.

“He has played through injury, he has played hurt. And we have five championship banners to show for it.”

So how does one cap off such an emotional day and introduction?

Dropping 60 points is one way to do it.

That is right, the Black Mamba finished his career in style by dropping 60 points en route to a 101-96 Lakers win.

Sure, it was only the Lakers’ 17th win of the season. Sure, the Lakers finished in last place in the Western Conference. Sure, Kobe also took 50 shots in his career finale.

But in the grand scheme of things, none of that really mattered.

Down 94-84 with three minutes remaining, Bryant took over as he had done so many times in his storied career, scoring the Lakers’ final 17 points to close the game.

Hollywood’s best could not have written a better script.

It was perhaps the best way for the kid from Philadelphia who grew up a die-hard Lakers fan to end his career. It was not one without pain and controversy that Bryant fought through, but it was a career that ranks among the game’s greats.

So, as he addressed the crowd following his sixth career 60-plus-point game, Bryant was caught up in the amazing and emotional moment.

“You can’t write something better than this,” said Bryant.

“Mamba out.”

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Reese Setzer, Sports Editor

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