"That sucks," Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas said when informed of Bryant's announcement back in November. "I'm definitely going to try to get his jersey before he calls it quits. He's the best player in my era. The game will miss him. He's one of the best players ever. Dang. That's my favorite player, so that hurts."
Bryant's announcement means that Dec. 30 will be his 23rd and final appearance at TD Garden, and Boston's visit to Los Angeles on April 3 will be his 45th and final game against the Celtics.
With that in mind, here's a quick list of the five most memorable Bryant/Boston moments that sprang to mind after his announcement (and feel free to add your own in the comments section):
• Bryant's pre-draft workout: The Celtics owned the No. 6 pick in the 1996 draft and brought in Bryant for a pre-draft workout. Even Bryant has joked about his brief time in green (posting pictures of him with Celtics legend Dennis Johnson). Bryant, a lifelong Lakers fan, said he initially balked at working out for Boston. "They said, 'What do you mean, no?'" Bryant said. "I was such a Lakers fan and I just hated the Celtics. They said, 'C'mon now, you have to do this.' So I asked them, 'But do I have to wear all that green stuff?'" Bryant later admitted that Johnson was "awesome" and that he enjoyed his visit. "I had a great time. It was just getting past all that gawd-awful green stuff." Read more about the workout HERE.
• Sweetest win: Game 7 of 2010 Finals: Bryant didn't have a particularly efficient shooting night, finishing 6-for-24. But he put up 23 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and aided the Lakers' second-half rally to defeat a Celtics squad that squandered two chances to capture its 18th title. Boston fans cringed watching Bill Russell deliver the Finals MVP trophy to Bryant, who called his fifth championship the "sweetest" of his career because it came against the Lakers' rivals.
• Toughest defeat: Game 6 of 2008 Finals: If the 2010 Finals were among Bryant's best basketball memories, the 2008 Finals will rank among his most forgettable -- especially Game 6, when Bryant labored through a 7-for-22 shooting night and the Celtics cruised to a 131-92 victory to end the series. Bryant later noted it was "one of the lowest moments of my career."
• Bryant's game-winner in 2010: Bryant scored 40-plus points against the Celtics on five different occasions. His performance in a January visit in 2007 was otherworldly (43 points on 25 shots). But one of the most memorable performances from this vantage point was Bryant's fade-away winner over Ray Allen in Jan. 2010. Bryant stared down the Boston bench after the shot and it set up the epic 2010 Finals battle.
• Breakfast with Rondo: Last December, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was spotted having breakfast with Bryant during the Lakers' lone visit to Boston. The two players had a mutual admiration with Bryant noting, "From what I understand, he's an a--hole, like me," to which Rondo responded, "That's a great compliment, coming from Kobe. I feel the same way about him." The Lakers could have recruited free agent Rondo this summer, but elected to draft a point guard instead.