When thinking about career highlights of Kobe Bryant, one of the first things that will come to mind for many is his final game in the NBA where he put up 60 points. It was the perfect sendoff for a player of his stature, someone who always strived for more, never gave up and even at age 37, was still impossible to guard. That performance against the Utah Jazz overshadowed the Golden State Warriors breaking the record for most wins in a season that night in 2016. It was truly awe-inspiring to watch, and while some may think that the Jazz took it easy on Bryant in his last hurrah, that's certainly not the case.
Sportscaster Mike Tirico went on The Ryen Rusillo Podcast to talk about Bryant after his devastating death, and brought up a detail from that game that not many had noticed. When Bryant went to the free throw line to score his 59th and 60th point, Tirico noticed that Hayward stepped into the lane as Kobe was shooting his second free throw. Tirico interpreted it as Hayward committing the violation to give Bryant another shot at reaching 60 points in case he missed his free throw. However, Hayward shared on his Twitter that's not at all what happened.
In a series of tweets, Hayward shared his admiration for Kobe, while setting the record straight on that night:
"The past day has been incredibly heartbreaking for me. Kobe is someone that I looked up to and admired and developed a personal relationship with. I have struggled so much with trying to understand the devastating news and like many others I'm still trying to process it.
It has also come to my attention that there is a story going around tonight about an intentional lane violation that I took to ensure Kobe would get his 60th point in his final game and many are applauding me for the gesture. The fact of the matter is that is not true.
That was a night that I will truly never forget as I can remember almost every moment of it and my goal that night was to compete as hard as I possibly could against Kobe because that is what he was all about and I wanted to give him my very best.
He got 60 on me and I didn't give him anything free all night. What happened on the free throw line was not intentional. Kobe would have lost respect for me if I gave him something free. That's what made him so very special!
Rest In Peace Kobe. I'm so honored to have shared our time on and off the court together!"
Hayward's right as Kobe would've never wanted the Jazz to take it easy on him, even if it was his last game. That's the type of player he was, and while that gesture might've been a nice sentiment to any other player in their final game, Bryant would've likely never seen it that way. Knowing that Kobe got 60 with the Jazz trying to stop him on every possession, though, just makes that game even more memorable.
NBA players past and present have been sharing their thoughts about the loss of such a legendary player. The NBA has the Lakers Tuesday night game against the Clippers, in order to give the Lakers organization time to grieve Bryant's death.Sunday afternoon that left no survivors. Among the nine who died was Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant. In the wake of his death,