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Hayward: Didn’t give Kobe ‘anything free’ in finale

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward disputes that he intentionally tried to commit a free throw lane violation to ensure that Kobe Bryant would hit 60 points in the final game of his career.

Hayward took to Twitter on Monday night after NBC commentator Mike Tirico, who was calling the game for ESPN at the time, pointed out the movement during an appearance on The Ringer’s “Ryen Russillo Podcast.”

Hayward, who was playing for the Utah Jazz at the time, can be seen stepping into the lane as Bryant was taking his second free throw attempt with 14.8 seconds left in the game. If the violation was called and Bryant — who had 59 points at the time — had missed, he would have been given another chance to hit the free throw.

Hayward said many people were applauding him for the gesture, but wanted to make it clear that the lane violation was not intentional.

Hayward contends that his goal that night was to compete as hard as he could because that’s what Bryant “was all about.”

“He got 60 on me and I didn’t give him anything free all night,” Hayward wrote. “What happened on the free throw line was not intentional. Kobe would have lost respect for me if I gave him something free. That’s what made him so very special!”

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