NOW that Kobe Bryant has decided to end his storied basketball career at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season, opposing teams will go out of their way to honor the retiring Los Angeles Lakers superstar when he plays in their arena for the final time.
On Tuesday night (Wednesday, Manila time) the Philadelphia 76ers gave Bryant, who went to Lower Merion High School located just outside the city where he was born, a unique tribute.
During the pregame introductions, the Philadelphia played a touching video to honor its son.
“Dear Kobe, You'll always be that kid from Philly. Raised with that same sense of pride felt inside us all, when you moved away you took a piece of Philly with you," said the narrator.
“You caused us heartbreak and reveled in the role of arch-villain. Now here we are, as you embrace our city, your roots for one last time. You’ll always be that kid from Philly. And we knew you before the world did. Much respect, Philadelphia.”
Kobe won his second NBA championship after the Lakers defeated a ragtag Sixers squad led by Allen Iverson, who in a message to ESPN gave much credit to Bryant.
“You brought so much out of me like no other player. There will never, ever be another player like Kobe Bryant. I love you bro and good luck to you,” said the former NBA MVP.
Before tip-off, Hall of Famer Julius Erving and Lower Merion coach Gregg Downer also presented Bryant with a framed ’24’ high school jersey, the same number Bryant currently wears. Downer said Bryant still wears his Aces shorts underneath his Lakers shorts.
Even after the Lakers lost the game, the crowd from the City of Brotherly Love chanted Bryant’s name while he received congratulatory hugs and farewells from the Sixers players courtside.
Kobe earlier said he enjoyed playing in his hometown and always looked forward to post-game meal of a warm pretzel and cheesesteak from Larry’s waiting in the locker room.