Los Angeles, United States | AFP | Thousands of fans with gold-purple Los Angeles Lakers jerseys crowded in front of the Staples Center arena waiting to catch a glimpse, albeit glancing, at their star Kobe Bryant, who plays the last game in 20 years on Wednesday night career in the NBA.
Dressed in Lakers jerseys and sweatshirts, with star Bryant’s number 24, fans chanted Kobe’s name hours before the game at Staples Center against the Utah Jazz.
Those who couldn’t afford the inflated admission prices – which have averaged as high as $1,000 – were content to loiter outside the facility waiting to see their idol or any of the more than 100 entertainment and sports stars who were invited to this farewell party.
“I don’t have a ticket but I want to feel the vibe, I’m going to stay all night. Hopefully, I’m going to watch the game on a portable TV,” said 26-year-old Pasadena resident Antonio.
“I really wanted to be here, I’m sad, I feel like my teenage years are over. I still remember when we won the final in 2000. My whole family went crazy, “he added.
From very early on, hundreds of fans packed the sports stores around the Staples Center to buy all kinds of souvenirs of the legendary Bryant.
Lakers jerseys bearing Bryant’s name and number range from $100 to $200, and there are also $3,000 jackets and a special-occasion cap stamped with the number 24 in 24-karat gold, worth $38,000. .
“We have already sold two cachuchas (caps), and more than 100 chamarras (jackets). We hope to run out of stock before the end of the game, “an employee of the store installed inside the Staples Center, the arena shared by the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, told local TV.
– The love of the people –
Kobe Bryant has not only won the hearts of Los Angeles fans for his dedication on the courts and for the Lakers cause, but also for his humanitarian work in aid of those most in need, things that the player does not talk about often.
Together with his wife Vanessa, of Mexican descent, he maintains the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (KVFF), dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families in need, both nationally and globally.
It also works with organizations that support after school study (After School All Stars) and support for people affected by cancer (Stand Up To Cancer) and other charitable foundations.
“I came here to celebrate an incredible player; it is exciting to witness history. Luckily, I bought this ticket at the beginning of the season without knowing that it will be Kobe’s last game, “explained Logan, 35 years old.
“Nobody has given his heart and soul to the Lakers like Kobe did, who is a warrior. We have known him for 20 years, he is like a member of the family. That’s why we decided to spend $3,000 on two tickets. He has given us so much that it is worth accompanying him at this time,” said Miguel, who, accompanied by his wife, waits in a long line to enter the facility.
Those without that kind of money, like Andrea, an Italian student at the University of California, say they still plan to have fun on a day that will be unforgettable.
“I have to be here because I am a huge fan of Kobe, who is one of the greatest players in NBA history. I’m going to stay here until the end of the game, it’s fun, I’m going to be so close and so far from him, it’s really an emotional day, “he concluded.