After sputtering and stumbling through the first month of the season, spending much of it looking like a shell of a shell of the Kobe Bryant that won 5 rings and permanently changed the game of basketball, the Black Mamba has officially announced his retirement. This year is it.
Kobe gave the statement via a first-person piece published to The Players Tribune, the popular sports website where high profile athletes pen their own editorials. “This season is all I have left to give,” says Kobe in the piece, which is titled Dear Basketball, and you can read in its entirety here. “I want you to know now, so we can savor every last moment we have together,” continued the life-long Los Angeles Laker.
Many have suspected that Bryant was nearing the end of his run, but it became painfully apparent during the first month of this season. Kobe has routinely shot uncontested air balls, looked gassed early in games, and made almost laughable turnovers that can be attributed to nothing but fatigue and old age. Despite selecting promising point guard D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the draft and adding a couple key pieces to their offense, the Lakers are cellar dwellers in the Western Conference for the second consecutive season.
As ESPN pointed out, when it’s all said and done Kobe will finish 3rd on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, behind just Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He won 5 rings as a pro, including a 3-peat from 2000-2003, and broke several NBA records, including his famous 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, the most ever by a single player in the shot-clock era.
And let’s not ever forget this.