Gordon Hayward on refuting lore of aiding Kobe Bryant to 60-point farewell game
Gordon Hayward ensured to set the record straight after many gave him praise for being willing to help the late Kobe Bryant ensure a 60-point farewell game. The Boston Celtics forward denied purposely trying to help Bryant get 60 points in his last NBA game after many fans sang him praise.
“It just was kind of awkward,” said Hayward, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “All these people were… giving me praise, I guess, for something that I didn’t do, or deserve or anything. So I just wanted to set the record straight.”
Former ESPN broadcaster Mike Tirico (now with NBC) shone a light on this tidbit during an episode of The Ryen Russillo Podcast on The Ringer.
Tirico interpreted Hayward, then a member of the Utah Jazz, purposely committing a lane violation to help Bryant secure 60 points, allowing him the chance to shoot another free throw in case he missed the second.
Tirico, who called Bryant’s last game in the NBA, saw it as an admirable display of reverence and brotherhood.
“That to me was the most unique example I could give to people about the fraternity of the NBA and the reverence for greatness in the NBA is in a whole other level than any of the other sports that we watch or cover,” said Tirico on the podcast. “It was like Gordon Hayward, his team is losing in this game, they blew a lead, blah blah blah. He had the complete wherewithal at 59 to just put a foot in the lane and take a look at the ref, just in case that Kobe missed it…
“That is just one of those things that nobody even remembers, that very few people even see, but every time I see Gordon Hayward, I think of that, I’m like ‘you know what, dude? You get it. You get it at a level that other people don’t, and I’m a fan of yours for life for that.”
— The Ringer (@ringer) January 28, 2020
The Celtics star took to Twitter on Monday night to clarify what went on during Bryant’s last game — ensuring to say that Bryant earned every point he scored and nothing was given to him.
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!
— Gordon Hayward (@gordonhayward) January 28, 2020
Bryant nailed that last free throw and wouldn’t need the lane violation to get his 60 points — a performance that will be seared in the memories of his fans and be among the greatest farewell games in NBA history.