Kobe Bryant Announces Retirement In Heartfelt Message To Fans

 

Kobe Bryant Announces Retirement In Heartfelt Message To Fans

By Burt Carey

 

Dear Basketball,

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.

Dear Basketball

So began Kobe Bryant’s heartfelt poem to basketball fans, released on Nov. 29 announcing that he’ll hang up his court shoes following the 2015-16 season.

The five-time world champion, now 37, who has been the court leader of the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years, wrote his missive on ThePlayersTribune.com. The 17-time All-Star ranks third in NBA history in regular-season scoring and post-season scoring. His 20 years with a single team is an NBA record. At age 34 he became the youngest player in league history to score 30,000 points, and he’s the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer.

His own love affair with the Lakers began when he was just 6 years old. It’s a love affair he’s extended to Lakers fans throughout his career.

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 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.

Bryant’s storied professional basketball career began in 1996, when he was the 13th player in the 1996 NBA draft as a shooting guard directly out of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa. He won the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest in 1997 and became an instant fan favorite.

He teamed with center Shaquille O’Neal to lead the Lakers to three consecutive championships in 2000-2002. After O’Neal was traded in 2004, it was Bryant’s team to captain, and he did it with flair, winning the league scoring titles in both the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. He once scored 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors, the second-highest individual scoring feat in league history behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962. After winning the NBA’s MVP Award in 2008, Bryant brought the Lakers to two more championships, in 2009 and 2010, both times being named the finals MVP.

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,
Kobe

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle