LOS ANGELES -- The clock ticked toward midnight Wednesday. The sold-out was standing had cleared hours earlier.

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Now, ushers, protection guards and also cleaning crews swept piles of purple and gold confetti, streamers and balloons into white trash bags. Yet Kobe Bryant remained on the court.

In a black Los Angeles Lakers hoodie, sweatpants and also a pair of his sneakers, the 37-year-old gathered his household -- his wife and also two young daughters -- ~ above the Staples center hardwood, and posed for images beside the team"s half-court logo.

As shutters snapped and flashes popped, Bryant smiled, lingering in the ar where he had ceded the many perfect farewell, one for this reason fitting and surreal that it also will linger in the vivid storage of those that watched it practically impossibly unfold.

In the last game of his storied 20-season career, Bryant score 60 points and also hit the winning shot v 31.6 secs left. He score 15 of the Lakers" final 17 points. That outscored the enemy by self (23-21) in the fourth quarter.

And, to round the end the storybook ending, Bryant led the Lakers to a 101-96 victory versus the Utah Jazz in his 1,346th and also final regular-season game, punctuating a season-long farewell tour with a performance that also he couldn"t fathom.

"It"s difficult to think that it occurred this way," he stated after notching the sixth game of 60-plus points in his career. "I"m still in shock about it."

In October, Bryant"s very first shot that the preseason in Hawaii hit the next of the backboard, foreshadowing a season that struggle.

Kobe Bryant gave his pan a farewell power to remember. He score 60 points in his last video game as a Laker.Harry How/Getty ImagesThe tribute videos, was standing ovations and chants still poured in, even though Bryant maintained misfiring, earning comparisons come Willie Mays v the brand-new York Mets and Johnny Unitas with the san Diego Chargers, stars in your twilight who had become shells of their former selves.

Bryant"s 20th season eventually amounted to a life wake, however unlike some aging icons, he never retreated from the spotlight. Instead, he remained the Lakers" sole focus, especially as they clung to him for relevancy throughout their worst season in franchise history (17-65).

And he to be never more the focus than Wednesday, starting with the truth that Bryant attempted a career-high 50 shots, his most due to the fact that taking 47 in 2002.

According to Elias sporting activities Bureau, Bryant ended up being the first player due to the fact that Rick Barry in February 1967 to attempt at least 50 shots in a game.

Bryant take it 58.8 percent the his team"s 85 shots, the highest percentage the his team"s shots the he has ever taken in a game, even more than once he scored 81 points. In essence, Kobe"s last game to be so Kobe. He has constantly been a gunner, firing far as lot as that pleases, even excessively.

And the has had an ultra eco-friendly light throughout this season, but never more so than in his finale, and also he took full advantage. "My teammates to be just proceeding to encourage me, "Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot,"" Bryant said.

Bryant played as if he were trying to drainpipe every shot from his basketball soul, solve fans who didn"t invest thousands to come watch him pass anyway. He stated his nerves impacted him some, but to keep his emotions in check, he had planned to follow his typical game-day routine, busying himself by focusing on the matchup.

"It didn"t job-related out the way," he claimed with a laugh. "There were so many human being to talk to and items to be signed and also pictures to be taken. I just provided myself approximately that. I simply said, this is fine, this is cool. Simply let it go, let it ride. Simply enjoy it. It was fun."

Several times, Bryant"s sentiments nearly overtook him, such as when he put on his socks, shoes and jersey or ran out of the tunnel. "OK, you"ve obtained to block the out because none of that renders a distinction whatsoever if girlfriend come out below and completely lay one egg," he told himself. "So you have to concentrate and also focus and also then you have the right to be nostalgic all you want after that tonight and tomorrow."

In regards to his tomorrow, Bryant claimed he plan to work-related out, if only to avoid falling into bad habits. He"ll job-related out the his corporate office, wherein he is ferociously hell-bent on building Kobe Inc. Into an empire that sooner or later overshadows his mythical basketball legacy.

Many Lakers fans and also others no doubt will want to view him beat basketball again, somehow. Castle might capture a glimpse on social media, that says, however he affirmed that he"ll never ever play in the NBA again. His body simply can"t take any type of more.

The truth that the walked turn off the court Wednesday is practically as miraculous together his point total. After all, his past three seasons were cut brief by injury, and also even Bryant admitted there were times this season once his human body failed him to the allude where he concerned he might not with the complete line.

Such concerns occurred after the Lakers played the Dallas Mavericks earlier this season, Bryant said. Regardless of all the physical therapy and treatment he got on a day-to-day basis, his human body still felt terrible, tho ached and also stiffened up.

He wonder then, "Maybe this is dad Time and also this is just what happens. That was a really tough moment for me," Bryant said. "I didn"t recognize if I might pull myself ."

He missed games to rest. The played restricted minutes in others. Late this season, he was so heavily wrapped in heat packs on the bench that he looked mummified.

The ultimate goal: help him to escape his last game unscathed so that he can walk off on his own.

"It"s surreal," he said of leaving the court because that the last time. "It"s difficult to describe. It"s practically like you"re in a fog and everything is moving extremely slow yet incredibly fast. You"re trying come look and also take it all in. You"re trying to observe and also you"re not fairly sure wherein to watch to just take it every in. Very an overwhelming to do. But it"s prefer a dream."

Bryant had told his young daughters the he supplied to placed up large numbers prefer that quite often. "Really?" they asked him. "YouTube it," that told them.

Wednesday didn"t note the perfect ending, because, because that him, perfect would"ve to be a sixth championship. Yet the Lakers space stuck in the NBA"s basement, so all he could do was shot to placed on a show, which the did in glorious fashion, once more.

As he sat on the dais before a packed news conference, through 450-500 media credentialed for his last game, Bryant donned his jersey. That seemed prefer he didn"t desire to take it off, to move on and leave his lifelong obsession behind, however he laughed at the notion. "I simply figured, tonight I"d come in here early because I recognize you have deadlines and stuff," Bryant said. "It"s not prefer I need to ice. What takes a long time is I have to ice, I need to stretch, . what am ns doing the for? The treadmill tomorrow? i figured I"d come in here a many faster and get going."

Then Bryant paused. The spoke about how his team members sprayed him through champagne once he came into the locker room after the game. ""That"s just for championships," the told them, "but every right."

He could smell the champagne on his jersey, just as he could in previous Junes once the Lakers were dominant. Then Bryant admitted it. That wasn"t prepared to move on. "Taking it turn off is going to be very strange," that said.

When the sank a 20-footer in the final minute to give the Lakers a 97-96 lead, the crowd erupted, delirious that Bryant gave them one an ext clutch shot. His final suggest came in ~ the totally free throw line, simply as his first point walk in new York on Nov. 5, 1996.

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Bryant play all yet 4.1 secs in his final frame, discovering to another ovation and more deafening roars. After ~ hugging teammates and also former teammates, a sweat-soaked and worn-down Bryant come to fifty percent court and addressed the crowd. "You know, i can"t think how fast 20 years went by," Bryant said. "This is crazy."

Video tributes had featured Jack Nicholson and also Snoop Dogg, Shaquille O"Neal and Phil Jackson, Kevin Durant and also LeBron James, and Magic Johnson referred to as Bryant the best Laker ever.

After all that, Bryant said the fans just how much he evaluate them continuing to be loyal through his career. He told them exactly how much it intended to only play because that the Lakers, a team he love ever because childhood. "What deserve to I say?" Bryant said with a substantial smile. "Mamba out."

Then, hours later, Mamba returned. Top top one next of the court, Bryant autographed the commemorative No. 8, signing, simply, "Kobe." top top the other side, he signed the commemorative No. 24 through "Laker because that Life! Kobe 24."