Kobe Bryant has been my favorite player ever since I was about eight years old, which was his third year when he won the 2000 World Championship before winning two more in the following two years with center Shaquille O’Neal.
On Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015 37-year old Kobe announced on the Players’ Tribune website that he will retire following this season, saying “this season is all I have left to give.”
In a story titled “Dear Basketball” Kobe wrote that basketball “gave a six-year-old-boy his Laker dream and I’ll always love you for it.”
“But I cant love you obsessively for much longer,” said Bryant. “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.”
We all knew this time was coming and most agree that his time has passed, but whether you personally like him or not, you can’t question his greatness. Since 1996 Kobe won two Olympic gold medals, five championship rings, 17 All-Star selections, an 81-point game that ranks second in NBA history only behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. Bryant also ranks as the second-best in NBA history with more than 32,000 points, but this seems to be near the end for one of the best players ever to play the game.
“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,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.”
As everyone knows, this has been a rough last season for not only Kobe but his team. The Lakers are in the midst of rebuilding, but no one would have expected just few years ago that in 2015 the iconic Lakers would start the season (2-13) and at the very bottom of the Western Conference. Everyone knew that Kobe’s decline was inevitable, but no one thought that he’d shoot a career-worst 31.5 percent from the field. He’s only played in 41 of a possible 164 games due to nagging injuries the past two years. He also averages more field goal attempts (16.7) than he does points (15.7). His field-goal and 3-point percentage both rank last among qualified players in the NBA.
Despite the decline, the Lakers still support him. Head coach Byron Scott stated to ESPN on Friday that he wouldn’t bench Bryant due to his poor play.
With just 66 games left, Bryant’s final season will turn into a worship season for in a way. He’s already gotten unusual standing ovations from team’s fan-bases, (mostly east coast) that normally provide a hostile environment because this in many cases will be his last time playing at these venues.