Kobe Bryant’s final NBA season is headed down the home stretch. The Los Angeles Lakers have nine games left on the year, and the future Hall of Famer intends to play in each one before he rides off into the sunset.
In his 20th season, Bryant has missed 16 of L.A.’s games because of injuries and rest. He’s missed five games in March because of shoulder problems, though he’s played in four straight contests. Bryant is averaging 20.5 points per game over that stretch.
The last year of Bryant’s career has certainly been a struggle. He’s averaging 17.1 points per game while shooting a career-low 36 percent from the field. His 4.0 rebounds and his 3.0 assists per contest are Bryant’s lowest averages since his second NBA season, which saw him start just one game. The Lakers are in last place in the Western Conference with a 15-58 record, and it’s been the organization's worst season in their storied history.
But for as bad as Bryant has been, he’s shown flashes of the player that won five titles and ranks among the best players in NBA history. Bryant’s 28-point performance on Friday was his third-highest scoring output of the season, and he turned the ball over just once while hitting four three-pointers. He averaged 22.3 points per game in February, which included a 38-point game that saw him convert seven of his 11 shots from behind the arc.
Two of Bryant’s final nine games are scheduled to be on national television. On Wednesday, his final game against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat will air on NBA TV. Bryant will conclude his career in the season finale against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center, and that contest will be broadcast on ESPN.
Bryant and the Lakers still have two games remaining against both the Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers. The 37-year-old’s final road game will come against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As his career winds down, Bryant ranks third on the all-time scoring list behind Karl Malone, whom he trails by more than 3,000 points. He’s 100th in total rebounds, though he should end his career in 99th place with Spencer Haywood in his sights. Bryant is firmly entrenched at seventh all-time in minutes and 29th in assists.
Los Angeles Lakers Schedule
Monday, March 28 at Utah Jazz, 9 p.m. ET
Wednesday, March 30 vs. Miami Heat, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
Sunday, April 3 vs. Boston Celtics, 9:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, April 5 at Los Angeles Clippers, 10:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, April 6 vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 10:30 p.m. ET
Friday, April 8 at New Orleans Pelicans, 8 p.m. ET
Sunday, April 10 at Houston Rockets, 3:30 p.m. ET
Monday, April 11 at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m. ET
Wednesday, April 13 vs. Utah Jazz, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)