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Kings impressed with Kobe celebration, hope for one of their own

Kings impressed with Kobe celebration, hope for one of their own
Confetti covers the Staples Center on Wednesday night following Kobe Bryant's final game with the Lakers. (Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Small shreds of gold confetti, released from the Staples Center rafters Wednesday night to celebrate Kobe Bryant’s farewell to the Lakers and the NBA, could still be found in odd places Thursday morning when the Kings took over the building to prepare for their playoff opener Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks.

The roars triggered by Bryant's 60-point performance and the excitement generated by the occasion also lingered in the minds of the Kings.

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The team had stayed at a nearby hotel Wednesday night, and some players heard cheers erupt from the arena before the telecast showed Bryant hit his final shot and close out his career in spectacular fashion.

Most players don't follow basketball closely, but many watched the postgame festivities and came away impressed with Bryant, his accomplishments and the tribute paid by the Lakers and the fans inside and outside the building.

“To see all the fans in the courtyard area around there and you see the big pictures of Kobe on the outside of Staples, that’s pretty cool,” said defenseman Alec Martinez, who’s expected to play Thursday after recovering from an undisclosed injury.

"He's been huge for this city for 20 years now and brought a lot of championships here, so it's certainly cool to see him honored the way he was."

Defenseman Rob Scuderi said he caught only the tail end of the telecast after attending baseball practice with one of his children, but he enjoyed the spectacle.

"It was fun. The guy's an exceptional talent, so it was nice to see it come to a nice close," Scuderi said. "He's meant a lot to the city for a long time, been a great player for a long time. So it's sad to see him go, but it was kind of a nice sendoff at the same time."

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said he drove downtown Wednesday while most fans were already in the building, but he still felt the buzz surrounding Bryant’s farewell.

"Obviously it's special. He's won a lot of championships here and [he's] one of the greatest players in the game, so it's nice to be able to cheer for him and to be able to play his last game at home," Sutter said. "I'm sure he would rather have played it in a playoff environment."

No kidding.

Seeing the celebrations, including the lively crowd and falling confetti, created a vision that defenseman Drew Doughty would like to see again in June — with him and his Kings teammates at the center. “That’s obviously our ultimate goal,” he said, “but we’ve got a lot of work to do before that can happen. It all starts tonight.

“Everyone’s ready. Everyone is just prepared for this game and prepared for this series. We’re so excited to get it going. Watching some of the other NHL games last night really gets your mind into things and gets you excited to play playoff hockey, so everyone here is ready. We’re fully prepared by our coaches, and all we’ve got to do is go out there and outcompete them.”

Twitter: @helenenothelen

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