Tonight will be one of the most celebrated and historic regular season evenings in NBA history.
This is not provocative hyperbole I speak. On the same night, the last game of the 2016 regular season, The Black Mamba will play the final game of his incomparable 20-year career. And Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors will attempt to break Michael Jordan and the 1995-96 Bulls’ regular season wins record of 72.
Kobe “Bean” Bryant came straight out of Lower Merion High in suburban Philadelphia and proceeded to murder the league for two decades, ending his career as the third all-time scorer in NBA history.
His place in NBA lore has long been established with his hand full of championship rings. The closest thing to Michael Jordan we will ever see, Kobe was truly poetry in motion and the type of player that you know once he’s gone, you’ll never see anyone play two decades with one club, embody the determination, spirit of the game and master the craft in the same relentless fashion.
You will however see the tremendous impact Kobe has left on the game through the accomplishments of current superstars who came up with Kobe’s posters on their wall and his videos on their iPhones and tablets.
Chef Curry and The Potcookers have taken the word “domination” to a next level and are redefining basketball as we know it. As Kobe Bryant’s era of explosive, outside-in, fast-break booming, small ball fades into the record books, the Warriors new brand of spread-the-court long ball takes center stage.
The continuous theme remains the state of California. Kobe’s departure simply means the bright lights won’t hover over LA until the franchise regains its bearings. For now, the Hollywood lights and the social media, celebrity shines will reside in Oakland.
Kobe reflected on his time in LA and the end of an era.
"It means everything," the Philadelphia native and future Hall of Famer said. "I grew up a die-hard Lakers fan. It's like a dream come true, for a kid to grow up, play for his favorite team and play here for 20 years, his entire career. I've seen the city grow. I've seen the city develop and vice versa. There's no place I'd rather end my career."
Curry’s been chasing the Bulls since he was a pre-teen lurking in the tunnels of Charlotte Coliseum, hoping to get a glimpse of Jordan and Pippen as they walked off the court following a game against his dad’s Hornets squad.
Now he can catch and surpass them.
The question I’m wondering is, which game are you going to watch?
Kobe and the Lakers take on the Utah Jazz at 10:30PM on ESPN2. It’s the last time any of us will get to witness the essence of greatness in purple and gold. He’s probably going to put up 30 shots. It’s a much-watch, especially for the '80s babies and '90s grimey's who grew up watching Kobe’s prolific rise.
Some will watch just to make sure Kobe is really retiring, sort of like when a King was reported slain, but no one truly believed it until they saw him in the casket being carried through the city.
The young heads are more concerned with the Warriors eclipsing the Bulls record.
Young folks get awfully tired of older heads always yapping about how much better everything was back in their day. The "Me" and "Now" generations would love to see Curry’s Warriors eclipse a mark set by arguably the greatest team in NBA history.
Steph is the cool cousin who you want to be like. He’s what's happening now. Kobe is the legendary OG uncle, whose advice and war stories are respected, but his best days are behind him. He doesn’t even know what they’re bumping in the clubs. He’s what was happening then.
Do the viewers feel nostalgic or do they want to ride the Splash Brothers wave on into the future?
I’ll be watching Kobe’s farewell, as I want to see that in real time and I will DVR the Warriors game.
Besides, according to ESPN, the Warriors are 91 percent shoo-ins to get the record. I have to see “what Kobe will do” just one last time.
Either way, the NBA is the coolest place on the planet tonight and the center of the sports universe.