Kobe Bryant, who has helped the Lakers win five NBA championships over a 20-year career spent entirely in Los Angeles, announced Sunday on The Players’ Tribune website that he will retire after this season, writing that “this season is all I have left to give.”
In a first-person story titled “Dear Basketball,” the 37-year-old wrote in the form of a poem that the sport “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,” Bryant wrote. “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.”
Kobe's retirement announcement that's being distributed to fans at the door tonight: pic.twitter.com/JQbqwRXdj5
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) November 30, 2015
“I’ve known for a while,” Bryant said. “A decision like this, you can’t make that decision based on outside circumstances. It has to be an internal decision, and finally I’ve decided to accept that I can’t actually do this anymore, and I’m OK with that.
“It takes a weight off my shoulders and everybody else’s.”
Lakers coach Byron Scott, speaking before Sunday’s game, emphasized that the star guard’s “purpose is to finish out this season and play.”
“I think he still loves this game,” Scott told reporters. “He still has a passion for it. He’s still a competitive young man.”
Bryant scored 13 points on 4-of-20 shooting as the Lakers dropped the107-103 decision for their sixth consecutive loss.
Scott said he was “shocked” when Bryant informed him Saturday night that he was going to announce his retirement the following day.
“He kind of shocked me when he told me,” Scott said. “[I’m] just sad more than anything. Just sad more than anything. Somebody who I truly care about, have a lot of respect for. I think it’s always hard when greatness like Kobe decides to hang it up.”
Bryant’s decision is not totally unexpected, given that he has said many times in recent weeks that he has considered making this season his last. After two decades, two Olympic gold medals, five championship rings, 17 All-Star selections, an 81-point game that ranks as the second-best in NBA history and more than 32,000 points, Bryant’s career is officially winding down.
“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.
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