In the wake of Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing, many have weighed in with memorable stories about the legendary basketball figure, both on and off the court. One such story emerged from Mike Tirico of NBC Sports during a visit with The Ryen Russillo Podcast on The Ringer on Monday.
Bryant famously scored 60 points and electrified the NBA world during his final professional game, further cementing his on-court legacy to the point where ESPN will re-broadcast the game in his honor on Tuesday evening. Tirico was on the call, alongside Hubie Brown, during the initial telecast on ESPN, and he recounted an intriguing detail about Bryant’s final point.
As Tirico notes (in impressive fashion given that he presumably wasn’t watching the game during the description), Gordon Hayward clearly gives Bryant the leeway needed to re-attempt his final free throw if, for some reason, the Lakers star missed. Of course, that didn’t happen and that is the reason why the vast majority of people would have no idea this occurred. Still, it is clearly etched in Tirico’s memory to the point where he seemingly views Hayward in a different light as a result.
There is certainly something about the way all-time greats are viewed in the NBA that might be different from other sports. In this moment, Tirico sheds poignant light on that belief and, beyond that, he brings a wildly interesting story to light that many simply wouldn’t have noticed.