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In what has to be the most dramatic news of the 2015 campaign, Kobe Bryant has announced that this will be his last season in the NBA and that he will be retiring following the end of it. Bryant made his announcement on November 29, when he shared his “Dear Basketball” poem with the readers of The Players’ Tribune.
We are not going to analyze the poem (which is probably best for everyone involved), but it is more or less a love poem to basketball in which Bryant addresses the sport as if it were a person, trying to cover all of the most important basketball-related moments of his life and career. If we are being totally honest, it is probably best to skip reading the poem.
Kobe entered the league in 1996, straight from high school, when he was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. To be more precise, he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, but according to him and his agent, playing for the Hornets was “an impossibility” at the time. He was then traded to the Lakers for center Vlade Divac. His first season was rocky at times, but everyone could see that he would become a generational talent.
In the period between 2000 and 2002, he would lead the Lakers to three consecutive titles, paired with Shaquille O’Neal and quite a supporting cast. The next couple of years were less memorable, but Bryant still posted incredible numbers. In 2009 and 2010, he won two additional titles, this time with a much poorer supporting cast, pretty much carrying the Lakers on his back for those.
His other awards and highlights include 2 NBA Finals MVP Awards, the MVP award in 2008, 4 NBA All-Star Game MVPs as well as 17 NBA All-Star call-ups. In addition to this, he ranks third on the all-time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. He is also third on the list of NBA Playoff scorers, behind Michal Jordan and Kareem again.
This season has not been going great for Kobe, who has been struggling with his shot and aging body, often admitting that parts of it are “killing him” after particularly difficult parts of the schedule. He has been posting career low numbers, while still shooting way too much. To be perfectly honest, it is a good news that Kobe is retiring, both for his sake and the sake of his fans who should not see him like this.