After 20 remarkable seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant is set to play his final game on April 13 against the Utah Jazz. And while the other 29 NBA franchises honored Kobe in their own special ways throughout the season, now Kobe’s longtime apparel partner, Nike, will look to do the same.
In reference to Kobe’s “Black Mamba” nickname, the global brand has declared April 13 as “Mamba Day,” and will have 200 of their athletes donning black and gold Nike shoes in honor of Bryant. It is a heartwarming gesture to a player who has become one of the most iconic figures in NBA history.
As a 5-time NBA Champion and 18-time All-Star, many have been disappointed to see Kobe end his career in this fashion. Thanks to poor personnel decisions, injuries and the inability to attract top-tier talent to the bright lights of Los Angeles, Kobe’s loyalty to the Lakers has resulted in a combined 37-123 record over the past two seasons.
It’s rare for NBA superstars to go out on top, as very few have ended their careers amidst team success. When Michael Jordan retired (for the final time), his Washington Wizards squad went an unimpressive 37-45 and missed the postseason. And since Kobe has never hidden his desire to emulate Jordan, perhaps it’s only fitting that Bryant end his career in a similar fashion.
With one more game left at Staples Center in Kobe’s illustrious 20-year career, we won’t just be saying goodbye to a legend – we will also be celebrating “Mamba Day.”