Kobe Bryant announced that he will retire at the end of the 2015-16 season on Sunday. In a post on the Player's Tribune titled "Dear Basketball," Bryant wrote in a poem that this season would be his last.
"My body knows it's time to say goodbye," Bryant wrote in the poem that doubles as a love letter to his favorite sport.
In his poem, Bryant writes that he is announcing his retirement now because he hopes that he can savor his final moments in the game. He ends the poem with a poignant image:
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
After the game, Bryant summed up his decision in a few words, "I don't want to do this anymore and I'm okay with that."
Lakers coach Byron Scott was surprised by Bryant's sudden announcement:
Lakers coach Byron Scott on Kobe: "I thought he at least had another year in him."— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) November 30, 2015
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement after Bryant's decision:
NBA commissioner Adam Silver's statement on Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/tmTac7EKqQ— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) November 30, 2015
The Lakers will hand out copies of Bryant's letter to every fan attending Sunday's game against the Pacers.
Bryant also posted a message to his fans on wife Vanessa's Instagram page:
You can walk away knowing you've always played with everything you have, babe. I'm so proud of you. I'm proud of everything you've given to all of your fans even when you weren't feeling your best. You've always pushed through it because you played for those fans that sacrificed so much to see you play in person. You mean so much to us all. I'm so excited to see what God has in store for us as a family now that one chapter is closing and new ones are opening. We love you! ❤️@KobeBryant
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak summed up Kobe well before Sunday's game.
Mitch Kupchak: "I gave up hoping that he (Kobe) would change his approach, like 15 or 18 yrs ago. He is what he is and I’m thankful for it."— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) November 30, 2015
The five-time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers is in the midst of his 20th season in the NBA. He has career averages of 25.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, and put up a career-high 35.3 points per game in the 2005-06 season.
Bryant, 37, won three NBA titles with Shaquille O'Neal in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and then won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. He was the NBA MVP in 2008 and was the Finals Most Valuable Player in 2009 and 2010. Bryant is a 17-time All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and 12-time member of the All-Defensive team.
Bryant's announcement comes in the midst of one of his worst season's. He is averaging 15.7 points per game on 31.5 percent shooting from the field, the worst of his career.
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SB Nation presents: The time Kobe asked a 10-year-old for advice