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The Latest: T-shirts, Kobe dolls among gifts for fans

Kobe Bryant
The Associated Press

The Latest on the Golden State Warriors’ chase of the best regular-season record in NBA history on Wednesday and Kobe Bryant’s final game with the Los Angeles Lakers (all times local):

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5:40 p.m.

Fans have been gathering by the thousands outside Staples Center all afternoon, and the Lakers have closed down Chick Hearn Court to throw a street fair in honor of Kobe Bryant’s retirement game.

Inside the arena, every seat is covered with a black T-shirt reading “LOVE,” only with the V replaced by Bryant’s sportswear logo. On the back: “Mamba Day.”

Fans in the pricey courtside seats are getting a gift bag filled with a hat, a shirt and other gear, along with a limited-edition, individually numbered action figure of a “RoboJam” Kobe. It appears to be a half-man, half-cyborg version of the Lakers’ career scoring leader.

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5:15 p.m.

Kobe Bryant is in the building.

The third-leading scorer in NBA history arrived at Staples Center for his final game in a black suit, black shirt and black tie.

He smiled, waved and shook hands during the walk through a cordon of media members and other guests on the way to the Lakers’ locker room.

“Let’s have some fun!” he said along the way.

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4:50 p.m.

Bulls radio commentator Bill Wennington, who played on Chicago’s 72-win team, is pulling for Memphis when the Grizzlies take on Golden State.

For Wennington, a Warriors win would be a Bulls’ loss.

“I don’t want them to do it,” Wennington said. “But if they do it, it’s fantastic. It’s hard. I know exactly what they’ve done, how hard they’ve had to focus and play all year.

“Me being a competitor, I don’t like to lose. And it’s like a loss for us.”

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4:25 p.m.

Whether the Warriors set the NBA record for wins in a regular season, Bucks coach Jason Kidd says they’ve already answered one question that was raised when the Bulls won 72 games in 1995-96.

“It’s interesting that when that Chicago Bulls team did that, there was a lot of discussion, could an Eastern Conference team or a Western Conference team, a team based on the coast, be able to break that record.

“Golden State has showed that it can be done.”

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4:10 p.m.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra plans to catch some of the Lakers game on TV Wednesday night so he can watch Kobe Bryant cap off his career.

“Look, we’re all basketball fans,” Spoelstra said before the Heat played the Hornets, which will start about 2 ½ hours before the Lakers tip off against the Jazz. “He was only able to play a few minutes in our last game. But we’ve been in some epic battles with him.

“So it’s a sad day for the NBA, but it’s a great day for him. And he’s found peace with it. “

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3:55 p.m.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford says what impresses him the most about the Warriors this season is how dominant they have been.

“They don’t even have close games when they play well,” Clifford says. “In my time, San Antonio has been the franchise, but even in their best years they had close games. When (the Warriors) play well, it’s not even close. They are overpowering.

“Their skill level and basketball IQ is like nothing I have ever seen.”

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3:20 p.m.

Suns interim coach and longtime NBA player Earl Watson has mixed emotions about the Warriors possibly breaking the Bulls regular season mark.

“Golden State has a chance to break a great record that we all grew up witnessing,” Watson said Wednesday. “It’s kind of bittersweet because for us in our generation growing up watching the Bulls and Michael Jordan. That was to us the greatest team ever.

“For the new generation, this is great for them.”

Watson, who played against Bryant, said to appreciate him you have to look past the numbers.

“We will see other skill guys who will be compared to Kobe but it’s going to be very difficult to see another guy have his mindset,” Watson said. “A lot of these young players don’t realize it’s not scoring the points or how you score the point, it’s the way he did it mentally. It’s the sacrifice he made in the offseason for his body.

“Guys are taking vacations in the offseason, he’s in the gym.”

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1:30 p.m.

Golden State guard Klay Thompson seems fine if the Warriors’ are playing second fiddle to Kobe Bryant’s farewell night, which just happens to coincide with Thompson’s team trying to become the first 73-win team in NBA regular-season history.

“You have one of, if not the best player, in my generation retiring after 20 years,” Thompson said after shootaround in Oakland, California, hours before Golden State will host Memphis and Bryant plays his finale against the Utah Jazz. “Kudos to Kobe Bryant, he deserves all the recognition he’s getting.”

Thompson says the Warriors are going to embrace Wednesday to the fullest, calling the possibility of going 73-9 “unbelievable.”

“You might not ever see this opportunity ever again,” Thompson said.

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12:10 p.m.

Everyone is gearing up for the big night in Oakland, including a trio of select high school students.

Draymond Green got an idea to provide three Oakland-area high school students with top GPAs tickets for them and a guest Wednesday night.

The students who earned tickets for the big game are Dyllon Louis, McClymonds High; Travon Hadnot, Dewey Academy; and Joseph Martin, Coliseum College Prep.

Green chose high school students because he believes they will remember the special night.

“This is a chance for us to make history,” Green said. “A sixth-grader may not understand what’s going on. I just want to get somebody who understands what’s going on, but also they earned it. Obviously they’re not doing what they’re doing for this but when you do right, good things happen to you.”

For those who can’t get tickets, the game should be well documented.

The Warriors have granted about 350 media credentials, comparable to last year’s Western Conference Finals. A typical game draws 60-70, the team says.

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11:55 a.m.

Kobe Bryant is the subject of a new Nike video, in which he plays the role of a conductor and turns the cries of his “haters” into song.

Among those featured in the video: his former Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace and even Chicago mascot Benny The Bull. As Bryant walks through a tunnel out of the darkened arena, someone in the crowd is holding a sign: “Thanks for the misery.”

Nike has put out three videos in recent days connected to Bryant’s farewell.

The first, “Don’t Love Me. Hate Me,” has Bryant speaking about reasons to love and hate him.

Another followed with a number of Nike athletes, including LeBron James, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Rob Gronkowski and Kevin Durant sharing memories about Bryant.

The videos:

Don’t Love Me. Hate Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvgMtfvTgdI

Athlete salute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Hi0skAwlHM

The Conductor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQYz0I5dE_A

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11:35 a.m.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is at Golden State’s shootaround ahead of the defending champs’ record-chasing final regular-season game against Memphis on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

Kerr was sidelined for the season’s first 43 games while dealing with complications from two offseason back surgeries. He missed Tuesday’s practice for a doctor’s appointment.

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11:15 a.m.

The big night has arrived. Golden State going for 73 wins, and Kobe Bryant going into retirement.

The 170th and final day of this NBA regular season will be loaded with intrigue, maybe an unprecedented amount. Golden State plays host to Memphis later Wednesday night, and a win would give the Warriors outright possession of the best record in league history.

Golden State takes a 72-9 record into the finale. At worst, the Warriors will match Chicago’s record of 72-10 set in the 1995-96 season.

Meanwhile, Bryant’s final game of his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers is also generating an enormous about of attention. Bryant will retire as the NBA’s No. 3 all-time scorer, his finale coming when the Lakers play host to the Utah Jazz later Wednesday.

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