There’s an old idiom in basketball that goes, “Shooters gonna shoot.” And Kobe Bryant — a man who attempted some 30,000 field goals in his career — is nothing if not a shooter. So as his 20-year career entered its 11th hour, the 37-year-old Los Angeles Lakers legend played out his final game Wednesday night exactly how NBA fans have come to expect: guns-blazing, scoring an incredible 60 points while firing up 50 shots. 

Bryant had announced that he would retire after the season, and with the Lakers long-eliminated from playoff contention, Wednesday's contest in Los Angeles against the Utah Jazz was his final NBA game. The finale started slow with a series of misses for the "Black Mamba," a nickname the ever-confident Bryant bestowed upon himself. All the while, the Golden State Warriors' simultaneous chase of the season wins record threatened to overshadow his swan song. As the half wore on, Bryant kept putting up shots of all flavors: runners, floaters, fadeaways, three-pointers, free-throws, layups. 

And there was some vintage, if aging, Kobe — a play with a classic Bryant series of pivots and fakes along the corner, into a baseline drive that finished in a half-dunk that, perhaps, would have been an emphatic slam a decade ago. 

At halftime, he had 22 points. 

Never satisfied, Kobe kept shooting in the second half. Like a heavyweight boxer trailing in the last round, he took every chance that, in other circumstances, might have been ill-advised. But with Bryant on his way out of the league he had once dominated, winning five championships along the way, the superstar had a green light to shoot from anywhere. His teammates seemingly looked to give him the ball on every offensive possession.

By the end of the game, a limping, tired Kobe seemed somehow reborn. He found his range. And while Bryant broke his career-high for attempts, putting up the most shots in a game since Basketball Reference started tracking the stat in the '80s, he also seemed to return to form by the fourth quarter.

As the Warriors streamrolled their way to 73 wins, Bryant's feverish final bow became the center of attention for NBA fans. He scored 15 of his team's final 17 points, including a jump-shot that gave the Lakers the lead with about 30 seconds left. The Lakers would go on to win, which, in a meaningless contest, didn't particularly matter.

At the end of the game, Kobe had 60 points, his sixth career game of 60 or more. And for a player known for taking over games, a superstar formed in the Michael Jordan mold, he had left the game as he had once ruled it.

After the clock hit zero, his Hall of Fame career concluded, Bryant addressed the crowd. "All I can do here is thank you guys," he said. "This has been absolutely beautiful. I can’t believe this comes to an end."

It was an ending that was as fitting as it was unbelievable. "You can't write something better than this," Bryant said.