December 1, 2015
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Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant set to draw curtains on magnificent career

After playing 15 games this season, Kobe Bryant has come to the realization that this is his last season in the NBA. On Sunday, he formally announced his retirement with a poem on The Players’ Tribune:
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,
Kobe
Bryant’s poem is similar to an open letter Michael Jordan penned when he retired in 2003. Like Bryant, Jordan started that letter with Dear Basketball. And just like when Jordan retired, Bryant’s upcoming retirement will leave a void in the NBA, a fact NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged in a statement about the future Hall-of-Famer’s decision to retire:
“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. 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.”
Injuries have limited Bryant over the last three seasons and he has hinted at retirement since this past summer. Still playing heavy minutes, Bryant’s shooting has struggled this season as he is averaging 15.7 points while shooting 31.5 percent from the field and a dismal 19.5 percent from beyond the arc. But for his career he has averaged 25.3 points, 4.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Bryant has spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers and will retire after playing 20 years in the NBA. When he retires at the end of the season, he will be the third-leading scorer in history of the NBA and a five-time champion. Bryant won the MVP in 2008 and won the Finals MVP twice, in 2009 and 2010. The Lakers legend made the All-NBA Team 15 times and the All-Defensive team 12 times. Bryant’s upcoming retirement will more than likely guarantee him his 18th All-Star appearance, as the fans will vote for him by the millions.


Kobe Bryant will retire at the end of the season. (USATSI)

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