Black Mamba puts on show in final game

It's only fitting that after an entire career spanning 20 years in Los Angeles that future hall of famer Kobe Bryant should have a proper end to a career as full of drama, suspense, comedy, and tragedy as Hollywood itself. After a long and fruitful career of donning the purple and gold in front of the cameras and bright lights of Southern California, Kobe Bryant has played the final game of his professional career -- and what a game it was.

It was nothing short of a star-studded affair, as everyone from Jay-Z, Snoop Lion, Kanye West, Shaquille O'Neal, and the ever present Jack Nicholson were on hand to witness Kobe's final game as the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the visiting Utah Jazz.

With all eyes on him, Kobe responded in the only way he knows how: with the same killer instinct, precision, and intensity that have been a hallmark of his entire career -- the championship pedigree fans and rivals have come to expect even in otherwise losing seasons. Through it all, Kobe has always been a winner, an individual that has strived for excellence and demanded the same of those around him, and tonight, Bryant put the exclamation point on his illustrious career by scoring 60 points in front of his home crowd.

Touching tribute, tears, and triumph

It's safe to say that there wasn't a dry eye in all of Staples Center, whether it was the touching pre-game tribute, the final individual performance of an icon, the win, or some combination thereof, the Lakers not making the playoffs and their abysmal regular season record was an afterthought in favor of honoring the man that brought something to the city of Los Angeles that's even more valuable than trophies or individual awards -- an iron will to win both on and off the court that changed the culture of Los Angeles Basketball.

While the Lakers have always been a storied franchise along with the Boston Celtics, it was Kobe and Shaq that brought winning ways back to Los Angeles for their three-peat between 2000-2002, and Kobe again for the repeat in 2009-2010.

While there will always be those that will debate Michael vs. Kobe when it comes to the best individual player of all-time, at the end of the day, both were the best of their particular era's, and, as with Michael before him, Kobe deserves all the credit and respect he's due, and, whether you love him or hate him, there's no denying what he's done to change the game, and no denying the mark he's left upon it.