Finally, last Sunday, November 29th, after weeks of rumors and a poor season, but with two successful decades of multiple records and achievements behind him, Kobe Bryant said goodbye to his teammates and fans.
Even though, many reacted surprised, the truth is that most of NBA fans have been waiting for the Lakers 37-year-old, Forward-Guard to announce his retirement at any time in the last two seasons.
Bryant was chosen as the 13th overall draft pick by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, becoming the first guard ever to be taken out of high school. He was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he played his entire professional career.
The Mamba’s current season stats aren’t the best with 15.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assistance. Nonetheless, his 20-year career is packed with success and awards.
Bryant is a 17-time All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and a 12-time member of the All-Defensive team. As a rookie, he won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and he was named an All-Star on his second season.
In 2006, Bryant scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second most points scored in a single game in league history, second only to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.
He was awarded the regular season’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2008. After losing in the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant led the Lakers to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010, earning the NBA Finals MVP Award on both occasions.
Bryant owns two Olympic gold medals and five championship rings. He led the NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons and he is one of just four players in NBA history with 25,000 points, 6,000 rebounds, and 6,000 assists in his career. Kobe has a total of 32,683 points.
The Lakers fans received an emotional surprise last Sunday at the Staples Center. And I am not talking about their sixth consecutive loss in the 106-103 defeat to the Indiana Pacers, but about a love letter he sent his fans, thanking them for the last time.
Kobe Bryant wrote: “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.” “Finally I just had to accept that I don’t want to do this anymore,” He added.
The Lakers guard has suffered from multiple injuries in the last two seasons, forcing him to miss at leas 123 games between both and affecting his performance notably.
This season will be Bryant’s last, but the Lakers still have 66 games remaining after Sunday, November 29th game. He also remains in contention for a spot on Team USA’s 12-man roster for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. So, we might still have a chance to see Kobe play and hopefully retire with a better performance.
And even if this doesn’t happen, he will still retire with one more record for this 2015 as he is the NBA’s highest-paid player this season.