Kobe Bryant’s NBA career is coming to a close on Wednesday, and the entire sports world is celebrating the Los Angeles Lakers star.
In honor of Bryant’s final game—at home, against the Utah Jazz—Nike has declared April 13 “Mamba Day.” Inspired by the Bryant’s self-annointed “Black Mamba” nickname, the celebration will feature a number of Nike-sponsored athletes wearing black and gold Nike apparel, including Mike Trout and LeBron James. Golfer Rory McIlroy started the celebration early, wearing Kobe-themed footwear at the Masters on Thursday.
Nike also put together a video with company-sponsored athletes to “salute” Bryant as he finishes his career, including James, Trout, Carli Lloyd, Odell Beckham, Neymar, Serena Williams, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, and Tiger Woods. See what those stars had to say about Bryant:
ESPN and rapper Kendrick Lamar—a Los Angeles legend in his own right—partnered on a video tribute for Bryant ahead of his final game against the Utah Jazz. The video, titled “Fade to Black,” features Lamar reading a script written by journalist Scoop Jackson as highlights of Bryant’s career play:
The Compton-born rapper talks about the greatness of Bryant, saying that “we are all witnesses” to what the Lakers star has achieved. Lamar talks about the “blood, sweat, and tears” that Bryant gave to Los Angeles, and asks, “how do empires last when there’s no longer an emperor?” Lamar ends the video giving respect to Bryant, leaving it with a final word: “Kobe.”
The Bryant played his last road game on Monday night, taking on the Thunder in Oklahoma City. Like many other stops for Bryant this season, the team presented the Lakers star with a gift honoring his career. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant gave Bryant a book that contained handwritten notes from Thunder players about what Bryant meant to them.
One of the Greats. pic.twitter.com/76ZlGozMT5
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) April 11, 2016
Bryant had 13 points in the game—all in the first quarter—before the Lakers were blown out 112-79. Although the game was a dud, the crowd was energetic whenever Bryant had the basketball, cheering him on as he made four of his 12 shots.
“I feel really excited and very happy and I’m looking forward to lacing them up one more time,” Bryant told ESPN after the Lakers’ loss.
But if you want to join in the celebration at the Staples Center, prepare to cough up a hefty chunk of your own tribute: Ticket prices have skyrocketed, with courtside seats going for as much as $17,000 for a courtside seat. Staying home? Catch the game at 10:30 p.m. Eastern / 7:30 p.m. Pacific on ESPN2.
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