Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers has announced his plan to retire at the end of the current season. Bryant is in his 20th season in the NBA and has played for the Lakers his entire career.
Los Angeles Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant announced on Sunday that this will be his final NBA season. He made the announcement in a first-person essay on the Players Tribune website.
"This season is all I have left to give," said Bryant, "My heart can take the pounding, my mind can handle the grind, but my body knows it's time to say goodbye."
The message was contained in a poem entitled Dear Basketball.
Bryant, who is 37, is in his 20th season in the NBA.
The commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver was quick to respond to Bryant's announcement.
"With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP (2008), five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game," Silver said.
Bryant ranks third on the NBA's career scoring list, and only 13 players in the history of the league have played on more championship teams. Bryant helped the Lakers to titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.
The Lakers have 66 games remaining in the season after Sunday and it will likely turn into a farewell of sorts for Bryant, who has already received long ovations from normally hostile fans on road trips this season, particularly in places like New York and Miami where crowds sensed that they might be seeing him as an opponent for the final time.
The Lakers' next road game is on Tuesday, perhaps not coincidentally given the timing of Bryant's announcement, in Philadelphia - his hometown.
av/jm (AP, DPA, Reuters)