Kobe Bryant announces retirement from basketball with a poem in the Players' Tribune
Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has formally announced his retirement plans with a poem in the Players’ Tribune on Sunday afternoon. In a poem titled “Dear Basketball”, Bryant expresses his love for the game and officially put down his retirement in these words:
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.
Earlier this season after a rough loss, Bryant hinted about his plans to retire if the current conditions surrounding the franchise didn’t change. With the Lakers having won only two games of the fifteen they have played so far, it’s no surprise the 17-time NBA All-Star decided to draw the curtains on his 20-year NBA career.
Decision to retire not unexpected
Having said that, Bryant’s decision to retire isn’t completely unexpected. Over the past three seasons, he has spent more time recovering and rehabbing from injuries than actually playing and representing the team on the court.
It all started with the Achilles tear he suffered in mid-April of 2013 after which his career has been on a downward spiral. The Achilles injury was followed up by a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee the following December. After another gruesome rehabbing tenure, Bryant returned for the 2014-15 season only to suffer a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder in January. That run of recent consecutive injuries limited him to only 41 out of a possible 164 games through the previous two seasons.
NBA Commisioner Adam Silver released a statement immediately, which said:
"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.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."
For Bryant, the 2015-16 season has been a struggle to say the least. If you exclude his first two years in the league, his current season averages of 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists on 31.5% shooting and 19.5% from long range are all career lows.
The remaining 66 games of the season are most likely to turn into a farewell tour with Bryant recieving cheers on the road, much like he did in New York and Miami. Coincidentally, the timing of his retirement announcement is such that the next road game the Lakers play is against his home town club, the Philadelphia 76ers.
Phenomenal career for Bryant with some unique achievements
He is currently in the final season of a two-year deal he signed with the franchise in 2013 which pays him 25 million for the 2015-16 season, making him the highest paid player in the league. During this season’s opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Bryant become the only player to spend 20 years with a single franchise, the longest in NBA history. He has won five NBA Championships with the Lakers, as he took his team to the top in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.
He was the NBA’s scoring champion for consecutive seasons in 2006-07 and 2007-08. He currently sits third in the league’s all time scoring list with 32,670 points, making him the only player ever to have 30000+ points and 6000+ assists. He has 11 All-NBA First team selections and 9 All-NBA Defensive First team selections to his resume.He won his lone Most Valuable Player (MVP) award during the 2007-08 season.
He was originally drafted by the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. Later that night he was traded to the Lakers in exchange for Vlade Divac. The Future Hall of Famer also has two Olympic Gold Medals which he won with Team USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.
Making the safe assumption that the team is out of contention for the Playoffs this season, Bryant’s final game will be against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. As a tribute to his wonderful career, revisit his career’s top 10 plays:
Here’s a collection of NBA players past and present paying tribute to Kobe's career on twitter:
Hard to believe @kobebryant is finally going to hang it up. One of the NBA's great champions. Enjoy the rest of this season my friend.— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) November 30, 2015
Much respect to @kobebryant as he announces his retirement after the season. A fierce competitor and one of the greatest to ever do it!— Eric Gordon (@TheofficialEG10) November 30, 2015
Kobe is the greatest competitor I have ever faced. I am glad he's found peace, I don't know if we ll see another like him. Enjoy the last 66— Shane Battier (@ShaneBattier) November 30, 2015
One of the most under appreciated players to ever play is saying goodbye to the game he gave his all!… https://t.co/BOi32TOJQS— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) November 30, 2015