Kobe Bryant’s final Christmas as a Laker
Kobe Bryant is set to playing in an NBA-record 16th Christmas Day game on Friday when the Lakers host the Clippers.
Now in his 20th and final season, Bryant will try to improve on his 6-9 record on Dec. 25.
“I feel really honored, having played several games on Christmas and being in so many households at a very special time,” Bryant said Wednesday night after the Lakers finished on the wrong end of a 35-point blowout by the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center.
“It’s been a wonderful experience, and I’m looking forward to playing this last one,” he said.
Bryant has scored a total of 383 points on Christmas, an NBA record. Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat is second among active players in both points (258) and games played (10).
In 2004, Bryant scored a holiday-best 42 points against Wade and Shaquille O’Neal in a 104-102 overtime loss.
Have any of his 15 Christmas games stood out for Bryant?
“The Boston one in ’09. That was a really special one,” he said. “We were really looking forward to it. Most of the time, Christmas, you can kind of enjoy the time in the morning with your families, but for that game, I think we were all a little chippy in the morning. We were all kind of Grinch-like in a way.”
Technically, the game was played in 2008, early in the 2008-09 season. The Lakers had lost the previous year in the NBA Finals to the Celtics.
Bryant led the Lakers with 27 points in a 92-83 win over Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. In June, the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic for the NBA championship -- and then took the title in a seven-game series against the Celtics in 2010.
Bryant has played against the Heat four times (0-4) on Christmas, and the Phoenix Suns twice (2-0). He and the Lakers beat the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks and Celtics once apiece. He’s gone winless in single games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls.
Bryant missed the team’s last two Christmas Day games, against the Heat and the Bulls, with injuries. They were both losses.
His career-scoring average on the holiday is 25.5 points a game -- 27.4 when overlooking his five-minute, scoreless appearance as a rookie in a win over the Phoenix Suns.
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