Legendary internationally celebrated athlete and Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant announced Sunday that he will be retiring at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season.
He announced his retirement through “The Players’ Tribune” in a poem that immediately went viral.
Bryant was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA draft from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
He was immediately traded to the Lakers, a trade that would go on to change the two franchises dramatically for the next 20 years.
Bryant went on to make the all-rookie team in 1997, along with winning the Slam Dunk Contest, and his career only went uphill from there.
Bryant is a 17-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA team selection and 12-time All NBA defensive team selection.
His lone MVP award came in 2008 when he averaged 28.3 points per game to lead the Lakers to the playoffs; however they fell short in the NBA finals, losing to their longtime rivals, the Boston Celtics, in six games.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Bryant was teamed up with center Shaquille O’Neal, making one of the best duos in NBA history, as Bryant and O’Neal are deemed one of the best at their respective positions.
They won three consecutive NBA Finals championships from 2000-2002. After a few years of disappointment in the playoffs, the Lakers were able to win back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, Bryant being the NBA Finals MVP in both title years.
“You asked for my hustle, I gave you my heart. Because it came with so much more,” Bryant explained in his poem. Giving his heart is exactly what he did. He had a passion for winning like no other, and his greatness refused to be denied, making incredible clutch shots at the most crucial times.
“In my eyes, Kobe and [Derek] Jeter are the same in their respective sports. It is weird that after this year, they will both be done playing. I grew up idolizing them both, and it is kind of like a part of my childhood ending,” said Ramapo senior Joe Venturino.
The only question up in the air is whether the Lakers will be retiring his number eight or number 24 jersey, as he switched numbers mid-career.
Bryant’s beautiful poem described his love for the game of basketball, but how it is time to call it a career, as his body can no longer handle it.
“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.”
Bryant will forever go down as one of the all-time greats, alongside Michael Jordan, and as one of the best pure scorers in the history of the game. Bryant is a definite first ballot Hall of Famer.