As Kobe Bryant continues his last season, Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors fans alike celebrated as he flopped for the final time in the Air Canada Centre, ending a storied NBA tradition.
Bryant has a long history of flopping in Toronto, and he was visibly emotional following the game. “I’ve been feeling nostalgic for a lot of games this season. It’s hard knowing you’ll never be back on the court, playing in front of crowds,” he explained. “And Toronto will always hold a special place in my heart. There’s nothing like hearing thousands of polite fans booing as you cause their best players to foul out.”
Despite rooting against Bryant and the Lakers, the Raptors organization and players also recognized that they were witnessing history. Said Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey, “Who could forget how Kobe’s great Toronto tradition started on this very court in 2000, when he just dropped to the ground after a slight nudge from Vince Carter. Then in 2003 he topped that performance, falling into the seats when the nearest defender was three feet away from him. But of course, nobody can forget the best of them all, a defining moment in Kobe’s career and perhaps the most memorable play in Air Canada Centre history: Kobe’s Christmas Day Flop of 2007?”
Casey added, “Being a part of the Raptors organization, you come to recognize and appreciate these as the greatest moments in your team’s history.”
Leading up to the game, Raptors fans also lamented that they will never again have the privilege of seeing number 8, and later number 24, argue with refs about a non-call.
Toronto resident Michael Grayson commented, “I grew up on Kobe’s flops. When you think about his impact in the NBA, and how we’ll look back on his career in centuries to come, to me he’s the greatest ever—a mix of Michael Jordan and Daniel Day-Lewis.”