Last week Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant announced he would be retiring at the end of this season. It hasn’t started well for the Lakers or Kobe Bryant. The team is just 3-11 so far this season and Bryant is only shooting 31 percent from the floor.
The critics on social media have been tough on Bryant, telling him to call it quits, often in the most unkind words. But through it all Bryant has stayed level, unfazed and upbeat as the losses piled up. He is giving his young teammates a lesson on how to hold yourself up and walk with dignity when your team isn’t doing well.
When the Lakers held their media day at the start of the season, their young first round pick D’Angelo Russell said he was excited to have the locker next to the guy he has idolized his entire life. “I don’t know how much longer he’s going to be around, so just to get the opportunity to pick his brain a little bit every day; I don’t have to make it weird by walking to his locker. I can just look to my right and there he is.”
On Thursday Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving said he had idolized Bryant for as long as he’s been playing basketball, adding, “When Kobe leaves the game, the game will never be the same.”
The players from around the league have been letting Bryant know how much they appreciate and respect him and how much they will miss him once he has left the game.
After 20 years as one of the best in the game — ever — a legend here in Los Angeles and around the world, #24 Kobe Bryant is calling it a day. He said he’s uncomfortable with the “farewell tour” aspect of it, but he appreciates and respects his fans too much to let them down.
Below is a video featuring parts of his press conference, along with comments from general manager Mitch Kupchak and head coach Byron Scott, both of whom had excellent careers as Lakers players.
Photos and video by Claudia Gestro.
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