LOS ANGELES — NBA superstar Kobe Bryant announced he will retire from the NBA at the end of this season in an open letter to fans posted to The Player’s Tribune website and Facebook page.
The Facebook post made Sunday evening comes with the caption: “This season is all I have left to give.”
It would appear the article linked in the Facebook post directs to a website unprepared for the traffic the announcement has attracted, as multiple attempts to connect resulted in an error before the page could finally be accessed. Bryant also posted the letter to his verified Twitter account.
The letter takes an almost poetic form as Bryant describes his history with the game of basketball, which for him began at a young age. He says in part:
“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.
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 clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1
Love you always,
Bryant, a five-time NBA Champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP, is currently in his 20th season with the Los Angeles Lakers. According to CNN, Bryant made history in 1996 when at the age of 18 years, 2 months and 11 days he was the youngest player in league history.
Despite being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, a trade later that year means Bryant has played for the Lakers for his entire professional career, and he is No. 3 on the NBA all-time scoring list. He also has two Olympic gold medals for men’s basketball.
At age 19, he made history as the youngest player to start in an NBA All-Star game, and between 2000 and 2002 the Lakers won the NBA Championship three times in a row.
In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel worker. A criminal charge was later dropped, and Bryant’s accuser later agreed to settle the civil lawsuit. The terms of that settlement have not been disclosed.
Bryant won a gold medal in Beijing in 2008, and in 2009-2010 the Lakers won back-to-back NBA Championships.