Kobe Bryant says he will retire at end of 2015-16 season

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Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers says he has decided to retire after this season.

The 37-year-old Bryant made the announcement in a post on The Players' Tribune on Sunday. The decision was not totally unexpected, given that Bryant has said many times in recent weeks that he was considering making his 20th NBA season his last.

There's no more wondering now.

After two decades, two Olympic gold medals, five championship rings, 17 All-Star selections, an 81-point game that ranks as the second-best in NBA history and more than 32,000 points, Bryant's career is officially winding down.

"This season is all I have left to give," Bryant said in what he called a letter entitled "Dear Basketball."

Here is the full text of the retirement statement, as posted on the website:

   From the moment
   I started rolling my dad's tube socks
   And shooting imaginary
   Game-winning shots
   In the Great Western Forum
   I knew one thing was real:

   I fell in love with you.

   A love so deep I gave you my all --
   From my mind & body
   To my spirit & soul.

   As a six-year-old boy
   Deeply in love with you
   I never saw the end of the tunnel
   I only saw myself
   Running out of one.

   And so I ran.
   I ran up and down every court
   After every loose ball for for you.
   You asked for my hustle
   I gave you my heart
   Because it came with so much more.

   I played through the sweat and hurt
   Not because challenge called me
   But because YOU called me.
   I did everything for YOU
   Because that's what you do
   When someone makes you feel as
   Alive as you've made me feel.

   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 its time to say goodbye.

   And that's OK.
   I'm ready to let you go now
   So we can both savor every moment we have left together.
   The good and the bad.,
   We have given each other
   All that we have.

   And we both know, no matter what I do next
   I'll always be that kid
   With the rolled up socks
   Garbage can in the corner
   :05 seconds on the game clock
   Ball in my hands
   5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1

   Love you always,


From Phil Shuman:

I’ll admit it. Kobe Bryant fascinates me. From his on court heroics to his off court drama to his family dynamics to his business acumen. So it was interesting to be in the room when he talked about ‘’how he’s ok with it’’ and how ‘‘he’s at peace with it’’ and how there’s ‘‘beauty in the pain’’ in slogging through one more season rather than retiring now. 

He talked, as only Kobe can (rehearsed ?) that the reason he knew it was ‘‘time’’ was because when he meditated, and his mind started to wander as one’s mind does when meditating, that  ‘’his mind no longer drifted exclusively towards basketball."  I mean how many pro athletes, or for that matter anyone in any profession, who could say it was time to go for that reason.  

Kobe is one of a kind. No matter what you think of him, you have to agree on that. It will be interesting to see what the next chapter in his life brings, because even though he’s an old 37 in terms of basketball years, in reality he’s still young, healthy, and very wealthy.   

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