Kobe Bryant has put an end to everyone’s guessing game.
In a poem published on The Players’ Tribune, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar bared his decision to hang his jersey after this season. It did not come as a big surprise really, given that the 37-year-old Bryant has, in the recent weeks, have said that he was considering making his 20th NBA season his last.
Now it’s been confirmed.
”This season is all I have left to give,” Bryant said in his piece entitled “Dear Basketball.”
”My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye,” Bryant wrote. ”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.”
National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver supports Bryant in his decision via a statement released by the league’s official Twitter account:
In his two decades as a pro basketball player, Bryant has five NBA championship rings, 17 All Star selection, an 81-point game that ranks as the second-best in NBA history, more than 32,000 points, and two Olympic gold medals.
This season, Bryant and the Lakers have been struggling – lurking at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. It doesn’t help that he is now a shadow of his former formidable offensive self, shooting a career-worst 32 percent.
Bryant is in the final year of his two-year deal that will pay him $25 million in 2015-16, making him the NBA’s highest-paid player this season.
The Lakers have 66 games remaining in their schedule, and it will likely turn into a adoration tour of sorts for Bryant, who has already gotten 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 last time.
The Lakers’ next road game is in Philadelphia – Bryant’s hometown.
”Philly is where I grew up,” Bryant told The Associated Press in an interview in Miami earlier this month. ”It’s always a different emotion there than anywhere else.”
In 1996, Bryant burst into the NBA straight out of high school after being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th overall pick and later traded on to the Lakers.