Like just about every game during this Kobe Bryant farewell tour, the procession line began moments after the final horn sounded in what was yet another Los Angeles Lakers loss.
This time the opponent was the Boston Celtics, who held on for a 107-100 win that secured a playoff berth for them while handing the Lakers their 60th loss in one of the worst seasons -- if not the worst -- in their franchise history.
But fans don’t come to see the Lakers lose these days, or check out who the best players are on the opposing team.
This season is all about Bryant.
And to his credit, he took us all down memory lane with a vintage big-game, Bryant-type performance, leading all scorers with 34 points.
“To the extent that my body will allow me,” he said afterwards. “I’m going to do my best to give the fans what they came to see.”
Fans weren’t the only ones wowed by Bryant scoring 30-plus points for the fourth time this season.
“He looked like old Kobe from the jump, first play,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “He just had a different energy.”
Jae Crowder was one of the main Celtics players getting lit up by Bryant.
“He played very well,” Crowder said of Bryant. “Made a lot of good shots, tough shots. He looked good. He scared me there for a while. But we locked in and got the win.”
But in many ways, the Lakers came out winners on Sunday night as well. Bryant had a great performance that was certainly enjoyed and appreciated by the Laker faithful, who are well aware that the future Hall of Famer is calling it a career after this season.
And with the loss, Los Angeles (19-60) continues to hold down the second-worst record in the NBA, which only enhances the odds of landing one of the top two picks in June's NBA draft. LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram, respectively, are expected to be the top two selections.
For Bryant, Sunday was one last chance at competing against an arch-nemesis and hear the (all too predictable) “Bos-ton-Sucks!” chants from the crowd.
"It is. It’s weird,” Bryant said. “The last time facing that green. It’s been a joy to go against them; to be a part of a rivalry that I watched for so long.”
But performances like the one he put on Sunday night certainly got some to think that maybe, just maybe, Bryant should re-think this whole retirement thing and plan a comeback.
“Comeback what?” Bryant said. “No. Uh-uh. Uh-uh. Not a chance. I’m good. Not a chance.”
Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas has not hesitated to say his favorite player growing up was Kobe Bryant.
“He’s the best player of my generation,” Thomas said. “He changed the game, not just on the court but off it. He means a lot. That’s my favorite player. It means a lot to share the same floor as him and compete against him.”
And maybe more significant, to beat him.
“It feels real good,” said Thomas who had a team-high 26 points. “He had a great game, but to end this road trip with a win against the Lakers and it be his last game against the Celtics, that means a lot to us.”