In the wake of Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s passing, numerous stories are circling, and unfortunately, some of these are pretty unaccurate. The latest story that surfaced was regarding Kobe’s last NBA game against the Utah Jazz in which he scored 60 points. There were reports on The Ryen Russillo Podcast that Hayward intentionally stepped in earlier on Kobe’s free throw in case Bryant missed it, so he gets another chance of scoring 60.
Hayward heard about this story and decided to clear out the air by saying that the story was untrue. His goal that night was to stop Kobe because of the simple fact the Jazz needed that win to make the playoffs, and Kobe was the one who had different things in mind. Hayward also shared what his relationship with Kobe was and how much he will be missed after he passed away on Sunday.
“The past day has been incredibly heartbreaking for me. Kobe is someone that I looked up to and admired and developed a personal relationship with. I have struggled so much with trying to understand the devastating news, and like many others, I’m still trying to process it.
It has also come to my attention that there is a story going around tonight about an intentional lane violation that I took to ensure Kobe would get his 60th point in his final game, and many are applauding me for the gesture. The fact of the matter is that is not true.
That was a night that I will truly never forget as I can remember almost every moment of it, and my goal that night was to compete as hard as I possibly could against Kobe because that is what he was all about, and I wanted to give him my very best.
He got 60 on me, and I didn’t give him anything free all night. What happened on the free-throw line was not intentional. Kobe would have lost respect for me if I gave him something free. That’s what made him so very special!”