We all knew the end was near for Kobe Bryant. After a prolific career that began at the age of 18 that has spanned 20 seasons, all with the Los Angeles Lakers, and seen him win five NBA Championships and become one of the most heralded scorers in league history, on Sunday Bryant released a poem on The Players Tribune, announcing that this would in fact be his final season in the league.

This comes after months of speculation, a 2-13 start for the Lakers, and what is shaping up to be the worst season of Kobe’s career. He only played in 41 games over the last two seasons due to an assortment of hand and leg injuries, and while he has played in every game to start this season for Los Angeles, he has seen his field goal percentage diminish in every season for the last four years, bottoming out to a ghastly 31 percent through 15 games this year.

It is a sad end to what is one of the most successful careers in the history of the league. Drafted in 1996 at the age of 18 with the 13th pick by the Charlotte Hornets, he was traded to the Lakers on draft day for Vlade Divac, and will retire after playing all 20 seasons with Los Angeles, the most any player in league history has played exclusively with one team. He will also retire third on the all-time scoring list (currently with 32670 points, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan), the third most games with over 40 points scored (134, behind Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain), and the most career points for a player at the All-Star game, with 280 over 17 games. He has been on 16 All-NBA teams and 11 first All-NBA teams, both records, nine All-Defensive First Teams (tied with Jordan, Gary Payton and Kevin Garnett), and is currently the only player in NBA History with more than 30000 points and 6000 assists. He is a five time NBA Champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player, a two-time scoring champion, 17-time NBA All-Star, and four-time All Star game MVP.

He was one of the best players in his generation, in a career that started when Michael Jordan was the most recognizable, continued during the days when Shaquille O’Neal was dominant (which helped him win his first three titles), and will end with LeBron James and Kevin Durant leading the younger generation. No matter how those two continue their careers, Bryant’s legacy as one of the greatest to ever play the game is set in stone. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on the league’s Twitter account, stating: “Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game. Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game. I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

From the poem he left on The Player’s Tribune entitled Dear Basketball:

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.

As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,

Related Posts:



You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment