Before the Lakers played Portland on Saturday night, Trail Blazers Coach Terry Stotts spent his two-minute pre-game press session talking about Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
Knowing that it was going to be Bryant’s last game playing here because he’s retiring after the season, Stotts said he was hopeful the fans inside the Moda Center would appreciate all that Bryant has meant to the game.
“I think he’ll be received very well by the number of Lakers fans that will be here tonight,” Stotts said. “And hopefully the Blazers fans will give him the ultimate compliment and boo a little harder than usual.”
Then when Bryant was introduced as a starter, the fans cheered pretty loud, but there were a mix of boos. Portland didn’t have any type of ceremony for Bryant.
When Bryant touched the ball in the first quarter, he was booed again.
That had to make Stotts happy to get his wish.
But later in the first quarter, there were chants of “Kobe … Kobe … Kobe …" as it became apparent that Bryant was going to get a little bit of everything — cheers, chants of his name and boos.
Stotts was asked what he thought Bryant’s lasting legacy will be after 20 years in the NBA and five NBA championships.
"[He was an] ultimate competitor with an extremely hard work ethic,” Stotts said. “I think those two things would underline characteristics of his championships and career and allowed him to accomplish the things that he was able to accomplish.”
Stotts said there too many great moments by Bryant to say one was his favorite.
“He’s had such a long career,” Stotts said. “He’s done so many things, certainly the 81 points [against Toronto]. I wasn’t watching that game. It has to be the five championships.”
For Lakers Coach Byron Scott, he said he has tried to keep things normal when Bryant makes his last visit to a city.
It was in Portland on Nov. 28 when Bryant first told Scott during a timeout that he was going to retire.
Scott was telling Bryant that he wanted to cut down on his playing time in the second half of that game. A few seconds later, Bryant gave Scott the news.
Scott said he was stunned by the news.
The very next day, Bryant made his announcement at Staples Center.
Now, Scott said he is always conscious of Bryant’s playing his last game in a visiting arena.
“I just try to make it another game,” Scott said about Bryant’s farewell tour. “I try to approach it that way from the start. Obviously I am well aware that it is his last game here, and I’ll try to deal with that appropriately, as far as trying to give him his time of playing. Sometimes I play him a little bit more than I normally would because it’s the last place he’s going to be. But for the most part, I do approach it the same way.”
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