MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - “I felt like I had a purpose and my purpose was to try to be the best basketball player I could be."
Those were words from Kobe Bryant after his last game against the Memphis Grizzlies in 2016.
"Whether you like or you dislike Kobe, I think you have to respect him as an athlete,” said Ryan Shwaigert, fan.
He’s known as the Black Mamba, casting a huge shadow over the NBA for 20 years and picking up five championship rings along the way.
"He's idolized by millions,” said Shwaigert.
"Sad that this is his last game. You know, we wish we could keep him forever. But I want to commend him for what he's done,” said Dollann Williams, fan.
Eric Vernon, co-owner of The Bar-B-Q Shop welcomed fans to enjoy Kobe Bryant’s last game in Memphis at his restaurant.
"I, myself, am not a big Kobe Bryant fan. I'm more of a Tony Allen fan. But, in general, it will be good to see him play tonight,” said Eric Vernon, co-owner of the Bar-B-Q Shop.
And even more meaningful to Memphians after Kobe made a donation benefiting children in Shelby County Schools.
"I think that's phenomenal,” said Shwaigert.
"I think that shows a little bit about Kobe Bryant's character, that he would do this on his way out,” said Vernon.
"My hat's off to him for doing something like that,” said Shwaigert.
"I think it's part of his legacy, and I think it's going to continue to be part of his legacy,” said Williams.
But no matter how much love they showed Kobe, there’s no question where their ultimate loyalty lies.
"I have to say that I’m always rooting for our home team. So ... Is this a trick question,” said Williams.
"For him to throw up 50 and still lose would probably be good,” said Shwaigert.
So, here’s one for the Black Mamba but...
"Just go Grizz,” said Vernon.
"Go Grizzlies,” said Williams.