'Mamba out' as Lakers great Kobe Bryant thanks fans


For one last time as a Los Angeles Lakers player, five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant put on a show and thanked the fans afterwards.

After 20 seasons in the NBA, 2008 MVP Bryant bid farewell to the sport in iconic fashion, posting 60 points to lead the Lakers to a 101-96 comeback win over the Utah Jazz in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Despite his age, the 37-year-old Bryant was never going to bow out under the radar as he roamed free, shooting 22-for-50 from the field, the most shots in an NBA game since Michael Jordan (49) in 1993.

"I can't believe how fast 20 years went by. This is crazy. To be standing here at centre court with you guys, my teammates behind me and appreciating this journey that we have been on," Bryant told those in attendance at Staples Center, including Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Jack Nicholson and David Beckham.

"We've been through our ups and we've been through out downs. I think the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout. I grew up a die-hard, I mean a die-hard Lakers fan. I knew everything about every player that's ever played here. So to be drafted and then traded to this organization and to spend 20 years here, I mean you can't write something better than this.

"I'm more proud of the fact that -- not about the championships but about the down years because we didn't run. We played through all that stuff. We got out championships and we did it the right way.

"All I can do here is just thank you guys. Thank you guys for all the years of support. Thank you guys for all the motivation, thank you for all the inspiration. The thing that had me cracking up all night long was the fact that I go through 20 years of everybody screaming 'pass the ball' and on the last night they're like, 'don't pass it.'

"This has been absolutely beautiful you guys, I can't believe this has come to an end. You guys will always be in my heart and I sincerely, sincerely appreciate it. No words can describe how I feel about you guys. Thank you, Thank you from the bottom of my heart. God, I love you guys.

"To my family, to my wife, Vanessa, my daughters Natalia and Gianna thank you guys for all your sacrifice. All the hours I spent in the gym working and training and Vanessa, you holding down the family the way that you have, there is no way that I can thank you enough for that. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

"What can I say? Mamba out."