Lakers fans explain why they attended Kobe's pricey finale

BY Jovan Buha • April 14, 2016

LOS ANGELES — Lakers season-ticket holders faced a difficult decision heading into Wednesday night's season finale vs. the Jazz: Sell their tickets for 5-to-10 times face value? Or disregard their potential earnings and witness Kobe Bryant's final game in person?

We decided to ask fans whether they decided to keep their tickets, sell their tickets, or buy them for an absurd price.

(Side note: Many fans declined to answer questions about their tickets directly, though several claimed to be season-ticket holders who refused to sell.)

Here are several fans -- season-ticket holders, die-hard fans and those with connections -- discussing how they acquired their tickets to the Lakers' 101-96 victory, in which Bryant inexplicably dropped 60 points:

Question: Why didn't you sell your tickets?

Anthony: "Just because of the moment and the present and the history. I always tell people that this is so special to me because Kobe was the first player that I was able to see in my generation from start to finish. Like Magic we watched all the footage, and all those other guys we know all about them and have seen them.

"But we were actually just saying how Kobe air-balled those shots against the Jazz in his first playoff series, and now he's finishing his career off today against the Jazz. All the moments. I was 11 when he came in the league. So going through the ups and downs with him, it felt like you rode in the car with him. You were just with him all the time. That was cool."

Q: What's your favorite Kobe memory?

Joseph: "I'd say the 2010 playoffs. I came with him and we painted our faces and we were just all out. It felt like we were part of it -- like we were part of a championship."

Anthony: "There are so many, but I would say Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals against the Blazers. I was sitting in section 332, the last row. The moment Kobe threw that lob to Shaq was electric."

Q: When was the loudest you've heard Staples Center?

Anthony: "Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against Boston. That one was huge."

Q: Did you get any crazy offers for your tickets?

Anthony: "Actually, I own the two seats next to us too, so I sold those two. We went and used two and we sold two. Those sold for $1,500 each."

Q: Did you ever think about selling your tickets?

Anthony: "Not even close. Not even a moment. People said I was crazy, but it was too special."

Q: Why didn't you sell your tickets?

Arjun: "Moments like these are priceless. Kobe is, in my opinion, the biggest LA sports icon in history. Having the opportunity to see him live one more time is worth more than anything I could get for selling them."

Q: Were you tempted to?

Arjun: "No. Not one second. When I found out it was his last game, I've been looking forward to and dreading this day at the same time for a while."

Q: What has Kobe meant to you?

Arjun: "Besides being my childhood hero, he's kind of been symbolic of my youth. I grew up with him. I marked so many moments of my childhood watching him play, and watching him succeed and fail. He put me through the whole emotional gambit. Tonight's his last night, and symbolically I feel like I'm getting out of childhood -- my youth is ending tonight. It's a very bittersweet feeling."

Q: What's your favorite Kobe memory?

Arjun: "I was at Game 4 of the first-round series between the Lakers and Suns when Devean George stole the ball from Steve Nash and Kobe drained this high-arching shot to send it to the overtime. Then he hit the game-winning shot in overtime when Luke Walton tipped him the ball.

"I remember I was so close to leaving the game because I was so upset. I stayed to watch one more possession, and it ended up being the game-tying shot. Then they won in overtime."

Q: How did you get your ticket?

Brant: "I was able to acquire a ticket through the Lakers."

Q: So you have a connection?

Brant: "Yes."

Q: Why was it so important for you to be here tonight?

Brant: "I've lived in L.A. for 22 years, and Kobe has been here for 20. Kobe's time in L.A. kind of mirrors my own. I've gotten to see wins. I've gotten to see Olympic gold medals. I've gotten to see the greatest. He's our Michael Jordan. He's our Kobe."

Q: What's your favorite Kobe memory?

Brant: "My favorite Kobe memory is probably the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, because it meant to so much for him to represent the United States of America. And then knowing that he was ours -- he was our L.A. Laker representing the U.S. at the same time."

Q: Do you have any friends who sold tickets or bought tickets for tonight?

Brant: "I have a friend who's a swim coach at USC that may have spent about $1,000 to sit in Section 208. He had a GoFundMe page all year to try to raise money so he could then buy a ticket for tonight."

Q: And he raised the money?

Brant: "He raised a lot of it."

Q: How much did you guys pay for your tickets?

David: "$1,200 apiece in Section 218."

How much do those tickets normally go for?

David: "$94"

Q: Why was it worth it?

David: "Because Kobe's the greatest and this is his last game ever. Steven named his son, Bryant, after Kobe. We're just big Kobe fans and we had to be here.

Q: What's your favorite Kobe memory?

Steven: "Mine's the final regular-season game in Portland in 2004. He sent the game to overtime and then won it in overtime to win the Pacific Division title."

David: "The lob to Shaq was probably the most memorable. I remember being a teenager and watching that [expletive] on my big, fat [expletive] TV. That was the most memorable."

Q: What does Kobe mean to you?

Steven: "Life. Ball is life. That's it. Idol. Legend. Indescribable.

David: "He's the greatest. He just tries to be the best at what he does. I take that to work. I try to be the best at what I do every day. That's what Kobe means."

Q: No. 8 or No. 24?

Steven: No. 24, because it means his game grew and he matured. His footwork. Studying his opponents. He just knew what he was doing."

David: "No. 24. If you had to pick one, No. 24, because everyone said he couldn't win one without Shaq, but he did. He won two without Shaq. So No. 24."

Jovan Buha covers the NBA for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter: @jovanbuha.