NBA star and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant to retire from basketball at end of season and call time on glorious career
- Basketball great Kobe Bryant will retire at the end of this season aged 37
- LA Lakers star had been considering making 20th NBA season his last
- ‘This season is all I have left to give,’ Bryant wrote in open letter
- NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Bryant one of the greatest players of all time following his announcement
NBA star and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant 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.
NBA superstar Kobe Bryant has announced he is to retire from basketball at the end of the season
Bryant speaks at a press conference following Indiana Pacers’ victory agiaints the LA Lakers on Sunday
A letter from Bryant to the Lakers fans was displayed before the game against the Indiana Pacers
The basketball icon drives past Pacers forward Paul George during the first half of the NBA clash
The 37-year-old had said in recent weeks he was considering making his 20th NBA season his last
KOBE BRYANT’S CAREER SO FAR
Matches played: 1,293
Points scored: 32,683
NBA All-Star selections: 17
All-NBA First Team: 11
NBA Championships: 5
NBA All-Star game MVP: 4
Olympic gold medals: 2
NBA Finals MVP: 2
NBA MVP, NBA scoring champion, NBA Slam Duck Contest champion, 81-point game: 1
LA Lakers all-time leading scorer
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.
He said this last season was all ‘I have left to give’, in an open letter to the sport he posted on The Players’ Tribune.
‘I can’t love you obsessively for much longer,’ Bryant said in the letter titled ‘Dear Basketball’.
‘My heart can take the pounding, my mind can handle the grind, but my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.’
He wrote: ‘I’m ready to let you go. I want you to know now, so we both can savour every moment we have left together. The good and the bad.’
Manchester United legend David Beckham posted this message to Bryant following his announcement
Marc Anthony (left), David Beckham and Bryant meet at a Lakers vs LA Clippers game in 2008
Bryant holds up the Bill Russell MVP Award and the Larry O’Brien Trophy as he signals his four career championship victories back in 2009
‘This season is all I have left to give,’ Bryant said in what he called a letter entitled ‘Dear Basketball’
Bryant drives to the basket during a Lakers clash against the Charlotte Bobcats in 2013
Bryant said that after 20 years of wearing the Lakers’ purple and gold, he was ready to let the sport go. Here he is pictured in December 2000
‘We have given each other all that we have.’
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, in a statement released moments after Bryant’s news surfaced, called the Lakers guard one of the greatest players in the game.
‘Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game,’ said Silver.
‘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.’
Bryant (seen in March 2000) was drafted out of high school with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets but was traded shortly after to the Lakers, who he has played his entire career with
Bryant (pictured with his wife Vanessa earlier this year) was called one of the greatest players of all time by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver following his retirement announcement
The 37-year-old also revealed that basketball icon Michael Jordan was one of the first people to hear the news during a conversion the pair had during the summer.
He added: ‘[Jordan] is actually one of the first people that I told over the summer. We’ve been in frequent contact.’
‘We had some laughs, went back and forth about it. But the important thing for him, he said, “Just enjoy it. No matter what, just enjoy it. Don’t let anybody take that away from you, no matter what happens, good or bad. Enjoy it, man.”’
Bryant poses with Andres Iniesta and the Barcelona squad during the LA Liga side’s 2015 pre-season tour
The 37-year-old also revealed that basketball icon Michael Jordan (left) was one of the first people to hear his news during a conversion the pair had during the summer
He has collected two Olympic gold medals, five championship rings and 17 All-Star selections during a glittering career in basketball
Bryant has appeared in 17 All-Star games, was named the Most Valuable Player for the 2007-08 regular season and landed MVP honours in the 2009 and 2010 Finals when he led the Lakers to consecutive championships.
He has scored more than 32,000 points, including an 81-point game that is the second best in NBA history, and has two Olympic gold medals to his name.
He ranks only behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Karl Malone on the NBA All-Time Points Leader ranking.
Bryant revealed it would be ‘an honor’ to play for his third Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro next summer
Bryant walks with his family and ESPN’s J.A. Adande after his announcement on Sunday
During his career, Bryant made a habit of draining game-winning shots despite being double or triple-teamed by opponents and established a reputation for being one of the best closers in the NBA.
None of Bryant’s plans appear to have much to do with basketball – although he allowed that it would be ‘an honor’ to play for his third Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro next summer if he is picked for the US team.
‘I don’t want to get too Zen-like,’ Bryant said. ‘But honestly, when I’m sitting in meditation, my mind starts drifting, and it always drifted toward basketball, always.
And it doesn’t do that now. It does that sometimes. It doesn’t do that all the time, and to me, that was really the first indicator that this game is not something I can obsess over for much longer.’
Source: Daily Mail