The farewell tour of Kobe Bryant has officially begun. And if every team in the NBA rolls out the welcome mat for the five-time champion’s final appearance like the Philadelphia 76ers, his last season will be even more emotional than initially anticipated.
Bryant, who was born in Philadelphia and starred at nearby Lower Merion High School, was bombarded with praise by his opponent prior to Tuesday’s game at Wells Fargo Center. Not only did the Sixers release the emotional video above entitled “Dear Kobe,” but Philly legend Julius Erving and Gregg Downer, Bryant’s high school coach, presented him with a Lower Merion jersey, too.
Maybe more heartening than those planned gestures, though, was the reaction of the Sixers’ crowd upon Bryant’s introduction. Cheers like these are normally reserved for red, white, and blue- clad stars like Erving, not rivals who broke the City of Brotherly Love’s heart during the 2001 NBA Finals.
— NBA (@NBA) December 2, 2015
Bryant, of course, has come to terms with his basketball mortality by now. He can appreciate moments like these. But what will undoubtedly make the future Hall of Famer cherish this night even more? That Mamba is playing like how he’ll be remembered forever.
Spurred by 13 first quarter points from Bryant, the Lakers lead the Sixers midway through the second quarter.