Sunday was one for the books at the United Center as the Chicago Bulls hosted Kobe Bryant for the very final time. Earlier this season Kobe announced his retirement and the Bulls made sure the correct homage was paid to the NBA superstar in his final visit to the Mad House – with the exception of a win, viagra the Bulls went ahead and took the 126-115 W over the Lakers. Sorry to spoil the special moment Kobe.
— Nuccio DiNuzzo (@ChiTribNuccio) February 21, 2016
The Black Mamba has been consistently compared to Chicago’s Michael Jordan as a candidate for ‘Greatest Player of All Time.’ From his style of play, to his competitive drive, to his championship pedigree, even down to his tongue-wagging ways, many say Bryant is the closest thing to Jordan since Jordan (definitely a compliment). Kobe even passed MJ on the all-time scoring list, but won 5 Championships, one fewer NBA title than the Goat. I’d like to give a shout-out to Phil Jackson, who coached both legendary players during their prime-time domination years.
Did you know Kobe almost even played for the Bulls back in 2007 after Chicago and LA tried to negotiate a big fat trade between the Lakers, Bulls and Kings? Fun fact right? It obviously didn’t work out and would have completely changed the landscape of the Bulls (they would have never had a high enough draft pick to snag Derrick Rose in 2008 with Kobe on the team). Bryant did say, that Chicago had been his top destination aside from his Lakers.
The night started with PJ Rose grabbing a quick fist bump with one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. Despite PJ’s overwhelming cuteness, Pau Gasol really stole the show giving his former teammate and friend quite the tribute. Gasol introduced Kobe Bryant in the starting lineup with a personal video that had the fans on their feet. Truly humbling kind of moment between two former teammates feeling all the love and respect for one another.
The Bulls outlast the Lakers in Kobe's last game in Chicago!
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 22, 2016
Kobe put up 22 points in his final game in Chicago and was provided plenty of hugs and admiration. Other than a loss for the Lakers, Bulls fans gave the former NBA MVP an honorable send-off. With 45 seconds left in the game, Bryant checked in at the UC for the final time and fans gave the guy a standing ovation, I’m talking lots of applause here. It was a beautiful thing.
The Bulls actually put on a good show Sunday night, which is unusual as of late. E’Twaun Moore and Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 24 points each. Gasol was right behind with 21 points and Bobby Portis and Doug McDermott combined for 33 points off the bench. The Lakers aren’t currently the best team in basketball, but it’s always nice to see your team play well after some rough games.
Farewell Kobe Bryant. It was an honor to watch one of the greatest of all time play the game. The Lakers will never be the same without you.