Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant will play the last game of his 20-year career on Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center.
Like Bryant, considered one of the best players to play in the NBA, there have been several whose downslide from glorious and outstanding careers was crippled with injuries and a lack of magnificence exhibited in their final games.
Charles Barkley, TNT studio analyst, said, “It’s not a lot of fun when you can’t play anymore. You’ve been better than anybody else your whole life and you’re retiring for a reason — because you can’t play anymore. It’s kind of like a relief more than anything. I’m sure Kobe knows this.”
A list of some of the greats of the game whose last leg before retirement wasn’t as amazing as one would expect has been compiled by the Los Angeles Times. They are as follows:
Abdul-Jabbar was brought back for his 20th season in 1989, the year when the Lakers were seeking a third consecutive NBA title.
But while he averaged 10.1 points in 22.9 minutes in the 1988-89 regular season, the Lakers had to face defeat at the hands of the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals – the final score read 4-0. Here, Abdul-Jabbar could make only two of eight shots from the field. The all-time leading scorer made seven points and three rebounds in the 29 minutes that he played.
The winner of three NBA championships with the Boston Celtics, Bird was inflicted with severe back problems, which caused him to miss 37 regular season games in 1991-92. His last game, a Game 7 loss in Cleveland, constituted of nine shots in the 33 minutes he played. He scored 12 points, and made five rebounds and four assists.
Playing for the lottery bound Washington Wizards, Jordan – known for his brilliance for receiving six MVP awards – played his final game in 2003. He scored 40 points, four rebounds and four assists in the 28 minutes he played.
Affected with a strained right calf and a hip and an Achilles’ tendon injury during the 2010-11 season with the Celtics, O’Neal was ranked among the best as a four-time NBA champion, three of which came playing for the Lakers. In his final game, O’Neal played for only three minutes and did not manage any rebounds.