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Bryant: I will never play in the NBA again

By: - Online Sports Editor / @CFColinaINQ
/ 10:03 PM April 14, 2016
Kobe Bryant (top) of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts while addressing fans following his final game as a Laker in their season-ending NBA western division matchup aginst the Utah Jazz in Los Angeles, California on April 13, 2016, where the Lakers defeated the Jazz 101-96.  / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN

Kobe Bryant (top) of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts while addressing fans following his final game as a Laker in their season-ending NBA western division matchup aginst the Utah Jazz in Los Angeles, California on April 13, 2016, where the Lakers defeated the Jazz 101-96. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN

LOS ANGELES—Don’t expect a comeback from Kobe Bryant—not soon, not ever.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar shut the door firmly on a future return to the NBA, an occurrence common in sports as athletes make u-turns as often they retire.

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But not Bryant, who is calling it a career after 1,567 games in a span of 20 years highlighted by several runs to the NBA championship.

“You might catch a glimpse of me on Twitter or Instagram, but I’ll never play in an NBA game again,” Bryant told reporters after his 60-point farewell night.

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It had been a surreal Wednesday night for the five-time NBA champion, exiting to a chorus of gratitude from the crowd at Staples Center who were treated to a vintage performance from Bryant.

Bryant delivered 60 points, only the sixth of his career, in an effortless performance which even those who have witnessed him grow into a legend still find hard to fathom.

“I’ve never witnessed anything like that before. We just witnessed history,” said Lakers head coach Byron Scott, who experienced to be both Bryant’s teammate in 1996 and mentor for two years. “He was exhausted with seven minutes left. I knew it, he knew it. But somehow, with sheer determination and guts, he did it. He carried the game. It’s mind boggling.”

A fierce competitor who had been a polarizing figure not just in the NBA but in sports during his heyday, Bryant wouldn’t let fatigue get in the way of a masterful performance as he accounted for all but two of the Lakers’ last 15 points en route 101-96 win.

“I was really, really tired,” Bryant admitted after the emotionally-charged affair, which was attended by celebrities and former teammates.

But after the fitting Hollywood ending to his story, don’t expect Bryant to take it easy. In fact, he’s going to spend the first day of retirement back in the gym.

“I have to. If I don’t start immediately, it’s a slippery slope.”

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TAGS: Bryant, final, Lakers, NBA
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