Kobe Bryant Announces Retirement From Basketball In An Emotional & Poetic Piece

Longtime basketball legend and likely future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant announced he will retire from the sport at the end of this season. The 17-time All Star has been with the L.A. Lakers for his entire career, and in an emotional piece titled "Dear Basketball" posted on The Players Tribune, Bryant wrote how basketball "gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream." The letter was poetic and spoke of his love for the sport and why he has to say goodbye.

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.

As ESPN pointed out, Bryant has been having the worst season of his 20-year career, as he's faced injury upon injury and his field-goal and three-point percentages have plummeted. But Lakers Coach Byron Scott didn't let the performance issues affect the support he gave Bryant. When asked how he felt about Bryant's retirement, Scott said,"Sad. We talked about it last night. I told him it kind of shocked me when he told me."

The five-time NBA championship winner is known as one of the greats, which was confirmed by Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement saying, "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."

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And it showed in his words. In fact, love of basketball was the main point of Bryant's letter, which included phrases such as, "A love so deep I gave you my all — From my mind & body / To my spirit & soul" and "I did everything for YOU / Because that's what you do / When someone makes you feel as / Alive as you've made me feel."

The Lakers have 66 more games left in the season, with the next one occurring Tuesday in Bryant's hometown of Philadelphia.