“Man, guys, you know, I can’t believe how fast 20 years went by,” Bryant said. “This is crazy. this is absolutely crazy. And to be standing here at center court with you guys, my teammates behind me and appreciating all this, the journey that we’ve been on — we’ve been through and upts and been through our downs, and I think the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout.
“I grew up a die-hard, I mean a die-hard Laker fan,” Bryant continued. “Die-hard. I mean, I knew everything about every player that’s ever played here. So to be drafted and then traded to this organization and to spend 20 years here, I mean, you can’t write something better than this.
“I’m more proud not about the championships, but about the down years. Because we didn’t run. We didn’t run. We played through all that stuff. We got our championships, and we did it the right way. All I can do here is just thank you guys. Thank you guys for all the years of support. Thank you guys for all the motivation.Thank you for all the inspiration.
“You know, what’s funny— the thing that had me cracking up all night long — is that the fact that I go through 20 years of everybody screaming to pass the ball and on the last night, they’re like, ‘Don’t pass it.’ This has been absolutely beautiful, you guys. I can’t believe it’s come to an end. You guys will always be in my heart and I sincerely, sincerely appreciate it. No words can describe how I feel about you guys. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you guys. I love you guys.
“To my family — my wife Vanessa, my daughters Natalia and Gianna — thank you guys for all your sacrifices. For all the hours I spent in the gym working and training, and Vanessa, you holding down the family the way that you have, I can’t, there’s no way that I can thank you enough. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. And what can I say? Mamba out.”