Lakers' Bryant scores 60 points in final game of career

Kobe Bryant Scores 60 in Epic Final Game

April 13 (Reuters) - Moments before starting the final game of his stellar 20-year career in the NBA, Kobe Bryant was described as "the greatest" ever to wear the purple and gold by fellow Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson.

Bryant, an 18-time All-Star guard who went on to engineer a thrilling, come-from-behind 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz on his much anticipated league farewell, was given a lengthy video tribute before Johnson walked out to center court.

"We are here to celebrate greatness," Johnson, like Bryant a five-time NBA champion, told the sellout crowd. "For 20 years, excellence. For 20 years, Kobe Bryant has never cheated the game, he has never cheated us as fans.

"He has played through injury, he has played hurt and we have five championships banners to show for it."

See more from Bryant's final game:

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Lakers' Bryant scores 60 points in final game of career
Apr 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) waves to the crowd as he walks on the court before a game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Bryant concludes his 20-year NBA career tonight. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) tries to drive against Utah Jazz guard Shelvin Mack (8) in the first quarter at Staples Center. Bryant concludes his 20-year NBA career tonight. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers acknowledges the crowd before taking on the Utah Jazz in Bryant's final NBA game at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reaches for the ball in the first half while taking on the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles and claps before taking on the Utah Jazz in Bryant's final NBA game at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers hugs head coach Byron Scott before taking on the Utah Jazz in Bryant's final NBA game at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers waves to the crowd before taking on the Utah Jazz in Bryant's final NBA game at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to journalists, Mike Tirico and Lisa Salters before the game against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Huge roars then rang out as the Lakers fans gave Bryant thunderous approval.

"For the last 20 years, this man has been the biggest and greatest celebrity we have had in this town," said Johnson. "He is not only a great and unbelievable sports icon but he's also the greatest to wear the purple and gold.

"So right now we should put our hands together for the late great (former Lakers owner) Jerry Buss for trading for this man."

Bryant ended Wednesday's game with 60 points on 22-of-50 shooting as the Lakers fought back from a 15-point deficit at halftime and was again cheered loudly by the fans before he addressed them all from the center court.

SEE MORE: Staples Center transformed into Kobe Coliseum for star's final game

"Man, I can't believe how fast 20 years went by," he said, with a towel draped over his shoulders. "It's crazy, absolutely crazy to be standing here on the same court with you guys, with my team mates behind me.

"I appreciate the journey we have been on, there have been a few ups and downs but the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout.

"All I can do here is thank you guys for all the years of support, all the years of inspiration. This has been unbelievable. I can't believe it has come to an end," he said, before gold and purple confetti descended from the ceiling.

See more of Bryant throughout his career:

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Lakers' Bryant scores 60 points in final game of career
CLEVELAND - FEBRUARY 8: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers soars for a dunk during the 1997 Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk Contest on February 8, 1997 at the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1997 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, UNITED STATES: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant(L) and Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan(R) talk during a free-throw attempt during the fourth quarter 17 December at the United Center in Chicago. Bryant, who is 19 and bypassed college basketball to play in the NBA, scored a team-high 33 points off the bench, and Jordan scored a team-high 36 points. The Bulls defeated the Lakers 104-83. AFP PHOTO VINCENT LAFORET (Photo credit should read VINCENT LAFORET/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - FEBRUARY 8: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks during the 1998 NBA All-Star Game played on February 8, 1998 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1998 NBAE (Photo by Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)
03/02/98 - MCI Center - Lakers' Kobie Bryant(L) listens to teammate Shaquille O'Neal as they sit on the bench during game against the Wizards. - Photo By Rich Lipski TWP (Photo by Rich Lipski/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
USA - 1999: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a layup during a 1999 NBA game. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1999 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 19: Shaquille O'Neal #34 and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers pose with Lakers legend Magic Johnson after winning the NBA Championship trophy after defeating the Indiana Pacers in Game Six of the 2000 NBA Finals on June 19, 2000 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2000 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
28 Dec 2001: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers chilling out before their game against the Toronto Raptors at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. DIGITAL IMAGE. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Licence Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright 2001 NBAE. Mandatory Credit: Catherine Steenkeste/ NBAE/ Getty Images
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates victory following Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won the National Basketball Association championships defeating Orlando 99-86 for their 15th title and first since 2002. Bryant had 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Lakers completed a four-games-to-one victory in the best-of-seven NBA Finals. AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 27: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for the shot over Ben Wallace #3 of the Detroit Pistons during the game at Staples Center on February 27, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Pistons 95-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: 2003 NBAE. (Photo by: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO - MAY 7: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers answers questions from the press after Game two of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2003 NBA Playoffs at SBC Center on May 7, 2003 in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs won 114-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Copyright 2003 NBAE (Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant answers questions during a press conference held at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, Calif.. Thursday, July 15, 2004. Bryant chose the Lakers over the Clippers, remaining with the team he joined in 1996 at age 18 and later helped win three NBA championships. (Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage)
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PURPLE AND GOLD TRIBUTE

Pre-game, another video tribute to Bryant was played on the Jumbotron suspended from the rafters at Staples Center, ending with the words 'Congratulations on 20 years in the Purple and Gold' emblazoned on the screen.

Individual tributes from former team mates and opponents such as LeBron James, Pau Gasol, Stephen Curry, Dirk Nowitzki and Carmelo Anthony were played before long-time Lakers fan and Hollywood great Jack Nicholson wrapped things up.

"You have been an inspiration to us all and LA loves you," said Nicholson.

At that point, further chants of "Kobe, Kobe, Kobe" rang out from the crowd as Johnson walked across to embrace Bryant and share a few private words.

SEE MORE: Shaquille O'Neal says Kobe Bryant is the best Laker ever

Bryant then walked out to center court, applauding the fans with his hands raised high, then lifted his right arm in tribute before blowing kisses to the crowd.

The 37-year-old Lakers guard has cemented his place among the pantheon of NBA greats with a career that also includes scoring titles, the third-most points in league history and a league most valuable player award in 2008.

Though his beloved Lakers have spluttered this season to an embarrassing record of 17-65, the worst for a franchise that has won 16 NBA championships, his league farewell sparked huge interest at the box office for Wednesday's game.

Demand for tickets was as high as a pivotal Lakers playoff game, ranging in the secondary markets from $700 to $10,000.

According to Stubhub, owned by eBay and the largest online ticket resale site in the United States, the most expensive ticket sold for Wednesday's game went for $27,500.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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