As Jordan Clarkson put the finishing scoring touches on Kobe Bryant’s final game as a Laker, 710 ESPN Radio play-by-play announcer John Ireland marveled on-air that the game was “in the refrigerator” and that, in reference to No. 24’s record-setting 60 points, “I don’t believe what I just saw.” Those were, respectively, nods to the late, great Chick Hearn and Jack Buck’s call when Kurt Gibson hit a walk-off home run for the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series.
This morning on ESPN 710, Ireland explained that the only thing he had thought about ahead of time in terms of game-ending calls was such a nod to Hearn’s signature wrap-up. It’s only upon listening to his broadcast words again this morning that Ireland realized he had also hit the memory bank for the Buck reference. On a recent NBC Sports list, the Buck World Series reaction was ranked as the fifth best call in sports broadcast history.
Ireland’s ESPN colleague J.A. Adande has his own great take today. Under the headline “Kobe’s Glorious Ending Was So Kobe,” he writes:
Kobe Bryant went out in the most Kobefied way possible. Sixty points on 50 shots. FIFTY SHOTS. He shot shot shot to the very end. He either defied his critics or proved them right. You’re welcome to choose. There will be no more parsing of Kobe Bryant to be done around these parts. No more narratives because there’s nothing left to write. No more arguing about how he should do it, or how his way compares to others. This is how he did it. Past tense. If the methods were debatable, the results were undeniable, and now finalized. They will hang his jersey on the wall in Staples Center and they will erect a statue of him in the plaza outside because of the way he did it.
Previously on FishbowlNY:
Athletes Pen Their Farewells to Kobe
Pictured: The front of this coming Sunday’s special L.A. Times Kobe Bryant pull-out section.