Kobe Bryant said goodbye to the game of basketball by dropping 60 points against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center last night. Bryant’s former teammate and good friend Caron Butler expected Bryant to put on a show, but not to the extent of putting up the highest point total by any player in the NBA this season.
“That was crazy,” Butler told The Jim Rome Show on Thursday. “I was like just like tonight something special was going to happen. My little brother had hit me, and he was like Kobe’s going to go off tonight man, I wouldn’t be surprise if he scored 40 or 50, and he went out there and scored 60. If he had got going a little bit earlier in that game he probably would have scored 81.
“It looked like he had that type of rhythm to himself last night. He wanted to seal his legacy and shut the door on his career the right way, and that was Mamba Style,” Butler said.
Butler spoke about first meeting Bryant in 2004, after Miami traded him, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a first round pick to the Lakers for superstar center Shaquille O’Neal.
“He just told me, be ready to work,” Butler said. “He signed that massive deal, and was like, now that business is out of the way, let’s get to work. And I was ready to work, and work on my craft. And see what it was all about, taking your game to the next level, and he showed me what it took and what it takes.”
Bryant’s work ethic was unlike anything Butler had ever seen. “It was unbelievable, because Kobe, he blacks out. They call it the blackout workouts,” Butler said. “He’ll work out early, do the situational stuff, and basic skill stuff and then he’ll go game stuff, game situations in which he’s working on secondary moves, and he may throw up a left hand shot a couple times and he’ll look at you and say, ‘I’ll try this tonight in a game,’ and actually do it, make it and look at you. Man, he’s a special talent. You never see anything like it. I’ve never played with anything like it, and I’ve played with some great players.”
The 2011 NBA Champion also credited Bryant for his longevity in the league.
“What he instilled in me and the seeds that he planted as far as work ethic and being a professional and how to study your craft and being consistent in your craft in order to stay around in this game,” Butler said. “Those are the things I took with me for the rest of my career. That’s why I’ve been able to be a successful seasoned vet and still be in the game, because I learned so much under him.”
The Sacramento Kings forward said Bryant is more than just a consistent leader to him. He’s a very close friend as well.
“You can’t talk about the game of basketball without mentioning him and that’s why he’s an obviously an instant Hall of Famer and a guy that I’m proud to call a friend,” Butler said. “He’s been more than that just a teammate, he’s been a loyal friend throughout the years.
“I’m happy for him. I’m happy the way he ended his career and looking forward to big things in the future with him.”