Kobe Bryant to retire

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The Los Angeles Lakers’s prolific guard Kobe Bryant announced, through the Players’ Tribune website, he will retire at the end of this season. He did it in a poem, so we have some excerpts:

“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.

“And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.

“Love you always,

Kobe Bryant and Maurice Harkless of the Portland Trail Blazers during the game at Staples Center November 22, 2015.
Kobe Bryant and Maurice Harkless of the Portland Trail Blazers during the game at Staples Center November 22, 2015.

Lakers head coach Byron Scott said Bryant was going to play Sunday and the 17-time All-Star was intending to finish the season. He told reporters, “I think he still loves this game He still has a passion for it. He’s still a competitive young man.”

In his 20-year career, all of it with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant helped the team win five championships, the last one in 2010. He also won two Olympic gold medals. On January 22, 2006 Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second highest total in NBA history, behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game 44 years earlier.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, “I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”
When the NBA tweeted the announcement the hashtag #KobeRetires appeared almost immediately on Twitter and Fans (and detractors) began tweeting.

“What a blessing, to get to spend 20 years doing what you love. Congrats on a great career.”
“Kobe Bryant is not another Jordan. He is Kobe Bryant, and there will never be another player like Kobe again.”
“Coming from a Clippers fan Kobe you’re a legend. It was great growing up Watching you play.”
“The NBA will never be the same.”

The Lakers have been struggling the last few years and Kobe has been plagued by injuries, missing much of the past two seasons due to injuries. The team has stood behind Bryant and earlier this week Byron Scott said they would not bench Bryant.

The Lakers will face the Indiana Pacers tonight at Staples Center and the arena will be packed with fans and media. After tonight 66 games remain in the regular season and most likely there will be tributes in every city on what will be Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour.

Kobe Bryant will be remembered, like Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, as one of the greatest players of all time.

Claudia Gestro is covering the game and she contributed to this article, including the photos.