In the end, Kobe Bryant gave it a month. After playing 12 games in his 20th NBA season, Bryant realized it was time to retire. Prior to Sunday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, Bryant released an emotional letter via The Players Tribune, announcing his decision to leave the game of basketball.
It was the perfect time for Kobe Bryant to announce his retirement at the end of the season. Throughout his comeback attempt from three straight season-ending injuries, Bryant has not been the same. At first, the basketball world hoped it was rust, but that rust hasn’t come close to wearing off as the schedule hits December.
At 37 years of age, Bryant his only hitting 30.5 percent of his shots. He’s shooting 20 percent from 3-point range, and has released a number of air balls from deep. Not including his six-game stint in 2013, Bryant’s 15.5 points per game is the lowest average since his second year in the NBA. However, it’s not for lack of trying.
Apparently, Bryant is still working as hard as ever. His work ethic is one of the reasons why Bryant is considered one of the all-time great NBA players in history. Unfortunately, Bryant no longer sees the fruit of his labor on the court. It’s like he’s battling quicksand during an NBA game. Maybe his lackluster play is the reason for the decision to retire.
As Bryant poignantly stated, “My heart can take the pounding, My mind can take the grind, But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.” And he will retire a Los Angeles Laker for his entire career.
At least NBA fans have another 50 games to say goodbye to Kobe, and chant his name one last time.
Below is the Kobe Bryant retirement letter in full:
From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
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,