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How They Did in Their Final Game

April 14, 2016

This week, NBA star Kobe Bryant closed out his 20-year career by scoring 60 points in his final game. Here’s how some other basketball stars fared their last time on the court.
How They Did in Their Final Game
In 1991, Magic Johnson’s career was abruptly cut short when he announced that he was HIV positive. He didn’t play that season, but was still voted to the 1992 NBA All-Star Game. Johnson was the game’s Most Valuable player, scoring 25 points and a last-second three-pointer. After an absence of nearly four years, Johnson returned to the court for the Los Angeles Lakers in early 1996. He averaged 14.6 points in 32 games. His final game: Game 4 of a first-round playoff series. In a series-ending loss to the Houston Rockets, Johnson played 30 minutes off the bench and scored 8 points.
After 13 seasons and three NBA championships, Johnson’s friend and rival Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics announced he would retire at the end of 1992 season. (He’d missed large chunks of the last four seasons due to injuries.) After sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, the Celtics took the Cleveland Cavaliers to a full seven games of their Eastern Conference semifinal. Cleveland beat Bird and the Celtics 122 to 104. Bird scored just 12 points.
David Robinson played his entire career with the San Antonio Spurs, the team that drafted him with the #1 pick in 1987. (Although he didn’t begin play for two more years, because he had to fulfill military service requirements.) He led the team to championships in 1999 and 2003. And that was how Robinson went out: the decisive game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals.
After winning three championships for the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan retired from the NBA in 1993 (to play baseball), returned two years later, and won three more titles. After that he retired, and could’ve walked away from the court with his last game a Finals-clinching win. But he came back again in 2001, this time for the Washington Wizards. After two middling seasons, he retired for good in April 2003. In his last game, against the Philadelphia 76ers, Jordan scored 15 points. His final shots: two humble free throws.
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