Farewell To A Living Legend Tonight At The Peake
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Got your Thunder-Lakers tickets? If not and you really want to see Kobe Bryant’s final game in OKC better be prepared to lay out some cash.
Some tickets in the lower bowl are going for about $1,000 and even the cheap seats aren’t cheap for this game with some tickets in the upper level of Chesapeake Energy Arena going for $200 to $300.
Bryant didn’t play in the Lakers earlier visit to OKC but he is expected to play tonight and so are the Thunder regulars.
Billy Donovan would love to see his team play well tonight and get some of its mojo back after dropping four of the last six games but I’m sure the Thunder regulars want to be able to share the court one last time with a guy most of them grew up watching.
“In my era he’s the greatest player to ever play the game,” said Kevin Durant who is being idolized now by high school and college players much like Bryant was 10 and 15 years ago.
Durant talked extensively about Bryant after the Thunder's morning shootaround.
Bryant, who’s had a love-hate relationship with fans over the years, is experiencing mostly love on what has become his farewell tour of NBA cities.
"It's a beautiful thing," he said of the outpouring of support. "I found enjoyment in it and in being able to say thank you to everybody and vice versa. Rarely as an athlete do you get an opportunity to do that. Normally your career comes and it goes. I'm very appreciative."
Bryant has been lustily booed at The Peake ever since the Thunder moved to OKC from Seattle. The Lakers of those days were still winning titles, or at least competing for them, and were the team the Thunder was originally designed to beat.
Bryant scored 32 points in that memorable 95-94 LA win in a first round playoff series against Oklahoma City in 2010 that’s probably remembered more for Pau Gasol’s tipin at the buzzer that won that game and ended the series.
Those days are of course looong gone. The Thunder have beaten the Lakers 10 straight times in OKC and over the last three seasons the once proud Lakers have gone 27-55, 21-61 and 16-64 with still two games left this season, almost exact opposites of what Laker seasons used to be.
Bryant had a “turn back the clock” kind of game in Houston yesterday, scoring 35 points. He scored 19 in each of the two games he’s played against the Thunder this season, both in Los Angeles.
Tonight, instead of boos, Thunder fans will likely welcome Bryant with open arms and cheers and the organization will most likely have some sort of tribute.
Thunder fans could see their own superstars make more history tonight also.
Durant has scored at least 20 points in 63 straight games, which actually matches Bryant’s mark set during the 2005-06 season. Another game of 20 tonight will make the longest streak since Michael Jordan scored at least 20 points in 69 straight games in the 1990-91 season.
Russell Westbrook has 17 triple-doubles this season, tying former Laker Magic Johnson’s mark set during the 1998-99 season. Another triple tonight and Russ will tie Magic again who had 18 in the 1981-82 season and it will be the most since the NBA began “officially” tracking triple-doubles in the 1985-86 season.
So there should be a lot of moments to cheer tonight and memories to cherish for a lifetime.
Tipoff is set for 7:10 and if you can't make it to the arena you can see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma. We'll also have full coverage on the Twitter feed page of the website with live updates from the arena beginning at about 4 o'clock and then a postgame wrapup with blogs and reaction videos from the Thunder lockerrroom.