How Gordon Hayward made sure Lakers great Kobe Bryant scored 60 points in NBA Finale
Late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had plenty of memorable moments during his historic 20-year NBA career. The Black Mamba has made countless clutch plays while winning five Larry O’ Brien titles along the way.
There was that brilliant 81-point explosion, which seemingly still remains out of reach even in today’s fast-paced game. Still, what remains to be one of his iconic performances of all time was in his NBA swansong back in the 2015-16 season.
Bryant, who was 37 years old at the time, torched the Utah Jazz for 60 points in front of the adoring Staples Center crowd. Looking back at Bryant’s final play from the free-throw line, it seems that Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward made sure Kobe was going to make it to 60 markers.
Mike Tirico of NBC Sports shared his observation of how Hayward seemed to have intentionally stepped into the lane as Kobe fired his freebie. Bryant was sitting at 59 points at the time. Had he missed the free throw, Hayward would have been called for a lane violation and would have gotten another attempt.
“That, to me, was the most unique example of I could give to people of the fraternity of the NBA. And the reverence of greatness in the NBA is a different level than any of the other sports that we watch or cover,” Tirico explained in clip posted by The Ringer.
— The Ringer (@ringer) January 28, 2020
The Lakers, who were trailing for most of the game, end up securing a come-from-behind 101-96 win, thanks to Bryant’s heroics. Meanwhile, Gordon Hayward — who now plays for the Boston Celtics — has never addressed if his apparent late game violation was meant to be intentional.
Regardless of the circumstances involved, Kobe Bryant still ended his career on his terms and fans will always have that memory of him etched in our hearts forever.