Kobe Bryant in shock after scoring 60 as teammates weigh in

Bill Plaschke and Lindsey Thiry describe the scene inside Staples Center as Kobe Bryant scored 60 points in the final game of his 20-year career.


There was one more show from the player who once scored 81 points and, in a different game, 62 through three quarters.

Kobe Bryant had 60 points in the final game of his 20-year career as the aura at Staples Center blew past “inexplicable” and moved toward “surreal.”

Bryant acknowledged being somewhat in shock afterward, making 22 of 50 shots in 42 minutes of a 101-96 Lakers victory Wednesday over the Utah Jazz.


“My teammates were just continuing to encourage me, continuing to say, ‘Dude, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot,’” Bryant said. “It’s like reverse. It’s a weird year. Go from being the villain to now being some type of a hero. And go from everybody saying, ‘Pass the ball!’ to saying, ‘Shoot the ball!’”

It was a fully unpredictable end. Not even his daughters seemed to believe it as they sat courtside across from the Lakers’ bench.

“The coolest thing is that my kids actually saw me play like I used to play,” Bryant said. “[They’re] like, ‘Whoa, dad.’”

It was a perfect night for Bryant in a season long gone asunder for the Lakers, who ended up 17-65, their worst record ever. Just two weeks earlier, Bryant scored only five points against Utah while making one of 11 shots as the Lakers lost by 48, tying the biggest loss in franchise history.

His 60-point outburst Wednesday padded his season scoring average to 17.6, up from 16.9 going into the finale.

He was a charming host from start to finish Wednesday, telling the Lakers ahead of time he didn’t want a long pregame ceremony and later appearing genuinely touched by fans’ show of affection. Afterward, he shared hugs with about 25 former teammates who trickled onto the court.

Shaquille O’Neal, Lamar Odom, Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Derek Fisher. They were all there. Adam Morrison, Chris Mihm, DJ Mbenga and Mike Penberthy, too.

One thing was missing, in Bryant’s opinion — “The perfect ending would have been a championship,” he said — but this was a night to savor.

“I can’t believe this actually happened. I’m still in shock about it,” he said. “The outpouring of support all night long, and [from] my former teammates and fans and family.”

Bryant’s current teammates on Thursday expressed varying levels of amazement about his performance.

“I felt last night he was going to do something crazy,” second-year forward Julius Randle said. “I told him he had to take at least 40 field-goal attempts. He took 50. I was like he could have taken 60. I really wanted him to score 100 points, but he was probably a little tired. Last night was about him. I’m just happy that he did what he wanted to do. He went out his way.”

Veteran forward Brandon Bass said he asked Lakers assistant equipment managers to buy champagne before the game.

Watch George Lopez, David Beckham, Jeremy Piven, Arsenio Hall and others describe their emotions at Kobe Bryant’s final game.

Bass wasn’t sure how Bryant would react to champagne being poured on him in the locker room after the game, given that Bryant said it’s reserved for winning a championship. Bass said Bryant “embraced” the champagne pour from teammates.

“Dude had a storybook ending. To end it that way, they don’t make movies like that,” Bass said. “I felt like a little kid watching the game of basketball and going to see my favorite player have a great game. Kobe had that.”

Rookie guard D’Angelo Russell said: “The whole atmosphere — you could tell it was something that Laker nation fans were used to and you can feel that anything less is unacceptable … his last game ever and 60 points, that’s crazy.”

And Metta World Peace, who won a championship with Bryant in 2010, said it was an emotional night: “He didn’t start off hot … and then he just caught fire. And I was like wow, he has seven points, in a couple minutes. Then it went to 10, and we were like he’s going to have 25 tonight …and I just remember around the fourth quarter having a headache from screaming and jumping so high, I guess. It was great. It was great.”

Bryant acknowledged almost choking up when he put on his jersey for the last time and when he ran out to the court for pregame warmups.

Kobe Bryant met with the media after a 60-point performance in the Lakers’ 101-96 victory over the Jazz, and the final game of his career.

He was focused on one thing when he left the court for good.

“Don’t trip,” he said dryly.

What’s next for Bryant?

He planned to work out Thursday and head into his Kobe Inc. offices in Orange County.

“I’ve been in a certain routine for my entire career,” he said. “The worst thing that I could possibly do is not have one because then you wake up without a sense of purpose or a sense of direction. I have to find a new routine and I have to get to it and be comfortable with it.”

He’ll work on continuing to expand the reach of the sports beverage he already owns and also put together a movie based on this season. It’ll be akin to last year’s “Muse” film that he produced.

Five camera crews followed him around Wednesday, a marked departure from the one or two he usually hired throughout the season.

“I love the art of storytelling,” he said.

Bryant, 37, finished with 33,643 career regular-season points, third in NBA history. He admitted feeling fatigued during Wednesday’s game but obviously kept going.

“I was tired, but I just had to push through it. I mean, saving it for what?” he said.

Times staff writer Lindsey Thiry contributed to this report.

Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan