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"It was time to move on."
That was the headspace Kobe Bryant said he was in before the final game of his 20-year NBA career on April 13, 2016.
Bryant already was thinking ahead to future projects. The Lakers and their opponents, the Utah Jazz, already had been eliminated from playoff contention. It was just a meaningless game in mid-April.
That is, until Bryant got to Staples Center and felt what he described as a "really electric" energy.
Suddenly, it was no longer a meaningless game.
"I got there, just the energy in the place and my teammates were like, 'Come on, we gotta get you the ball,' and all this other stuff," the late Lakers legend told Andrew Bernstein on the "Legends of Sport" podcast in 2018. "I'm like, 'Aw man, I really gotta play. Here we go.' "
Bryant went out like a champion, dropping 60 points on the Jazz and receiving a Champagne shower in the locker room afterward.
"I was like, dude, this is cool but I'm only used to having Champagne for championships. This is not a championship," the five-time NBA champion told Bernstein. "But since the bottles are here, all right, let's pop them. Let's go."
The evening provided Bryant's career with a Hollywood ending ... or maybe not.
"If that script showed up on my desk ... I'd tell them to rewrite it," Bryant said and laughed. "It's too unbelievable."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.