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Hayward denies ensuring Kobe Bryant to score 60 in final NBA game

Delfin Dioquino
Hayward denies ensuring Kobe Bryant to score 60 in final NBA game
Gordon Hayward says he was determined to 'compete as hard as I possibly could' since that was what Kobe Bryant – known for being a fierce competitor – wanted

MANILA, Philippines – Gordon Hayward refuted a claim he deliberately allowed Kobe Bryant to score 60 points in his final NBA game in 2016, saying the basketball icon would have “lost respect for me.” 

Hayward cleared the air after broadcaster Mike Tirico said the former Utah Jazz star intentionally committed a free throw lane violation that would have given Bryant another chance to reach 60 if he missed. 

Bryant already had 59 points and was on his way to taking the second of his two foul shots when Hayward stepped on the line. 

Nevertheless, Bryant sank the shot to steer the Los Angeles Lakers to a come-from-behind 101-96 win – a storybook ending to a legendary career. 

While acknowledging fans have commended him for the gesture, Hayward said he was determined to “compete as hard as I possibly could” since that was what Bryant – known for being a fierce competitor – wanted.

“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,” Hayward said on Twitter. 

“Kobe would have lost respect for me if I gave him something free. That’s what made him so very special.”

Hayward said he had a hard time processing the death of the NBA icon. 

“Kobe is someone that I looked up to and admired and developed a personal relationship with,” Hayward said. 

Hayward went on to join the Boston Celtics the following year but broke his leg minutes into his debut with his new team. 

Bryant was one of the many NBA players who rallied behind Hayward, who returned to action in 2018 and helped the Celtics reach the playoffs. 

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Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you. Time to move on and focus on doing everything in your power to prepare for surgery, ask all the questions to be sure you understand fully the procedure so that you may visualize it in your subconscious while being operated on and better the chance of it’s success. Then focus on the recovery process day by day by day. It’s a long journey but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things that prior to this injury were taken for granted. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than you ever have. You see the belief within you grow with each mini milestone and you will come back a better player for it. Best of luck to you on this journey my brother #mambamentality always.

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– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.