Kobe Bryant has made it official: He is retiring at the end of this season.
Bryant wrote a love letter of sorts to the sport of basketball for The Players Tribune. He talked about falling in love with the game when he was six years old and how he spent so much time giving himself to the game because he loved it. However, he recognizes his body can no longer produce at an elite level.
From Kobe’s poem/letter: 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.
Bryant also indicated he is making the announcement so each moment can be savored.
There have been a lot of questions about whether Bryant would retire after the season since his contract with the Lakers will be ending. His most recent comments suggested he would retire after the season unless things changed. Perhaps he was talking about his body cooperating or play improving. Neither has happened, which probably leads Kobe to believe it’s time to walk away.
Bryant has been playing poorly — shooting embarrassingly and getting ridiculed for it, such as this mock video game. You know Bryant doesn’t want to go out being a meme.
The 37-year-old is averaging 15.7 points per game on a career-worst 31.5 percent shooting. He is just hurting the Lakers too much to stick around beyond the season.
Bryant is a 17-time NBA All-Star, one-time NBA MVP, five-time NBA champion, and two-time NBA Finals MVP. The two-time league scoring champ will have jobs in broadcasting and endorsement deals awaiting when he hangs ’em up. A spot in the Hall of Fame will follow shortly thereafter.