LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant will play in the final game of his 20-season career with the NBA Wednesday night.
A video tribute to the “Black Mamba” will be shown before the Lakers host the Utah Jazz at Staples Center, and additional tributes will be played during timeouts throughout the course of the game.
The 37-year-old Bryant will also speak to the crowd at the conclusion of the game. All fans will receive a commemorative program, T-shirt and ticket lanyard.
Before tip-off, fans will have the opportunity to take photos with the five NBA championship trophies Bryant helped the Lakers achieve. There will also be interactive games, a live disc jockey, a ticket giveaway to the game, face painting and a Bryant signing wall.
Limited edition “24 Collection” merchandise — including a $38,000 18-karat gold Lakers hat, a $24,000 purple Italian cashmere hat with five gold diamonds, and a $6,000 Letterman jacket — will also be sold Thursday at the Team LA Store in the Staples Center.
The Lakers issued a fraud alert on Monday to warn fans about the potential dangers of purchasing tickets for the game from third-party sources. Fans are encouraged to buy tickets from the Lakers Ticket Exchange online.
Bryant announced his retirement in a poem titled “Dear Basketball” in November. Since then, fans, teammates and former NBA stars have reached out to support the basketball star.
In fact, Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr., who played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons, posted a letter on Twitter Wednesday morning congratulating Bryant on the success of his career. In the letter he writes: “Very few people have changed the game of basketball, but you will be recognized as one of them alongside my ‘Dream Team’ teammates, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.”
Bryant officially became a Laker on July, 1, 1996 when the team completed a previously agreed trade with the Charlotte Hornets.
The 6’6″ Bryant played at the two guard position for most of his career, but in recent seasons began playing largely at the small forward sport.
After a string of injuries limited Bryant to playing six games in the 2013-14 season, and 35 games in the 2014-15 season, he has played in 65 of the Lakers’ 81 games this season, his most since the 2012-13 season.
Bryant averaged nearly 17 points per game this season, a steep drop from his career average of just over 25 points per game. He is the league’s third leading scorer of all time, with 33,583 points.
Throughout his 20-year career, Bryant has helped the Lakers win five NBA championships and was chosen as the NBA Finals MVP for the last two Lakers championship runs.
Bryant also received All-NBA honors 15 times, including 11 first-team selections, and was chosen to play in the league’s All-Star Game 18 times.
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