Last night, before his game against the Indiana Pacers, Kobe Bryant announced that this season will be his last. I hate to say I saw this one coming, but I saw this one coming. It’s not really a surprise that Kobe is retiring though. With his injuries and overall bad performance on the court, there was a general feeling that it was time for him to hang it up. Kobe announced his retirement in a letter to The Players’ Tribune titled, “Dear Basketball“. The poem actually made me tear up because you can tell that Kobe meant every word he said in it. If you didn’t already click on the link I would recommend doing so, even if you’re not a fan of the man.
Kobe talks about how he first fell in love with the game of basketball at the age of six. Bryant states he knows that his heart and mind are still in it, but his body just can’t do it anymore. Which is no surprise, he will always have love for the game, but his body has just run out of the energy to go through another seasons grind. But once again, the general public isn’t too shocked by this news.
This season, Kobe has been borderline awful. Even after his announcement, he shot a putrid 4-20 from the field for 13 points. And air balled yet another three point attempt. In 13 games the Laker legend is shooting 30% from the field, 20% from three and is averaging 15.5 points per game. The Lakers have the leagues second worst record at 2-14. If there’s a positives to this season for the Lakers, Kobe is staying healthy, which puts fans in the seats, and they’ll get a good draft pick.
Talking with a couple of friends, including Kevin and Tyler who write for this blog, the general feeling about Kobe is that they’re happy he’s retiring. Not out of hate, but due to the fact that he just doesn’t have it anymore. Both Kevin and Tyler were sad to see him go, but happy that he knows he has nothing left to give.
I also talked to my longtime friend John, who is a diehard Lakers fan (gross, I know) and N2K Lakers expert (he made me say it so I could quote him). He said the same things as the other two, but took it a step further by saying that Kobe “is holding us back.” Hard to argue there. He also added that “we’ll never get better with him still thinking he’s the top dog.” Once again, tough to argue with him. Kobe will be the alpha male no matter what. But it’s time to let the young guys like Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell take over this franchise.
Kobe was one of the few athletes who really loved his sport. He’ll get a Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter type moment at every game in his final tour of the league. He said he’s known the decision for a while, but just wanted to be 100% sure of his commitment. Players always say they love what they do, but you could tell Kobe lived, breathed and bled basketball. He left it all out on the court, played with emotion and played wore the purple and gold with honor, day in and day out. He was his generations Michael Jordan, and even idolized him. Kobe has had too many clutch and just overall memorable moments, that he’ll be remembered and talked about forever. No matter how the rest of the season plays out, he’ll go down as one of the best basketball players of all time.