Kobe Bryant announced Sunday on the Players’ Tribune website that he will retire after this season.
In a piece entitled “Dear Basketball,” the 37-year-old basketball star wrote that the sport of basketball “gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream and I’ll always love you for it.”
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.
His retirement comes as he struggles through what many say is the worst season of his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe has been plagued by injuries in each of the past five seasons.
The Lakers have 66 games remaining after Sunday, and it will likely turn into a adoration tour of sorts for Bryant, who has already gotten long ovations from normally hostile fans on road trips this season, particularly in places like New York and Miami where crowds sensed that they might be seeing him as an opponent for the final time.
The Lakers’ next road game is, perhaps not coincidentally given the timing of Bryant’s announcement, on Tuesday in Philadelphia — his hometown.
Bryant is in the final year of a two-year deal that will pay him $25 million in 2015-16, making him the NBA’s highest-paid player this season.
The expiring contract and numerous injuries had led to widespread speculation that Bryant would retire after this season. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has publicly said on multiple occasions that the franchise expected the former league MVP to retire at the end of his current contract.
He had an outstanding run! We wish him the best.