Los Angeles 2024 leaders have hailed the achievements of basketball star Kobe Bryant following the two-time Olympic champion’s retirement from the sport.
The 37-year-old scored 60 points in the final game of his career, to guide the Los Angeles Lakers to a 101-96 win over Utah Jazz at the Staples Center last night.
Byrant represented the team throughout his 20-year career, where he earned five NBA championships, 18 NBA All-Star selections and an NBA Most Valuable Player award.
He also earned Olympic gold medals at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 but withdrew from consideration for the American team for Rio 2016 in January, claiming that younger players had earned a chance to represent the country.
"For 20 years, Kobe Bryant embodied the quintessential Los Angeles sports hero: fearlessly competitive, uncommonly loyal and globally admired,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“His legacy as a Laker and his standing as an icon in this city are undeniable.”
Bryant has been a supporter of Los Angeles’ bid to stage the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, appearing in their latest film alongside fellow gold medallists, swimmer Janet Evans and diver Greg Louganis.
Evans is the vice-chair of the city's bid and Louganis is a bid ambassador.
The basketball star also met with the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach following a Lakers match in February, coinciding with an IOC delegation’s visit to the city.
“For 20 years, I’ve watched you dominate the game of basketball,” said Earvin "Magic" Johnson, an LA 2024 vice-chair and another legend of the sport, in a letter to Bryant.
“From the Great Western Forum to the world famous Staples Center, you have dedicated your life to becoming one of the greatest players this game has ever seen.
“Through your commitment to success, outstanding work ethic, and winning attitude, each year you perfected your abilities beyond expectation.”
The Lakers play their home matches at the Staples Center, earmarked as the basketball venue should Los Angeles be awarded the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games ahead of Budapest, Paris and Rome.
The IOC is due to choose a host city at its Session in Lima in 2017.