Kobe Bryant announces this season will be his last

Los Angeles Lakers guard and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant announced on The Player’s Tribune, in a post titled “Dear Basketball,” that the 2015-16 season will be his last. Bryant’s letter read as follows.

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.

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.
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

Bryant, 37, entered the NBA right out of high school when he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick in 1996. He has since gone one to play in 17 All-Star Games and was NBA MVP in 2008. For his career, he has averaged 25.3 points per game and won two scoring titles. Throughout that time, he was the only player who ever came close in terms of production and approach to His Airness himself, Michael Jordan.

Simply put, an icon is hanging them up and Bryant will be missed tremendously.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports