Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, has announced he will retire from the game at the end of the current season.
Kobe, 37, is considered as one of the greatest basketball players to have graced the game. The two-time Olympic gold medallist has scored 32,683 points, the third-highest in the NBA all-time list during a 20-year career with the LA Lakers.
He told the Players’ Tribune: “My body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”
The Lakers have won just twice so far this season, with Bryant averaging 15.7 points per game, way below his the more than 25 points he has averaged per game in his 1,293 NBA matches
In a poem entitled ‘Dear Basketball’, Bryant announced “this season is all I have left to give”.
“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.”
He ended the poem without hinting at what he might do next.
“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,” he wrote.
His final game is set to be at home against Utah on 13 April.
Bryant was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008 and selected for the NBA All-Star team on 17 occasions.
One more season
Lakers coach Byron Scott said he thought Bryant would have played on for at least another season.
“It kind of shocked me when he told me,” said Scott. “I’m sad more than anything. Somebody I care about, have a lot of respect for… it’s always hard when greatness like Kobe decides to hang it up.
“For him to be able to go around to all these cities and them to be able to appreciate him for what he has accomplished is great.”
Lakers president Jeanie Buss added: “We’re all sad. This era of Lakers basketball has been one of the most fun, exciting, prosperous eras we could imagine.
“We’re in full support of him. But it’s still very sad.”
Follow us on Twitter: @Four4TwoMedia