Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has confirmed via the Players’ Tribune that he will indeed retire after this season.
Bryant, 37, wrote a letter on theplayertribune.com titled, “Dear Basketball,” and posted a link of the letter on his official Twitter account.
“This season is all I have left to give,” Bryant said in his letter.
After battling severe injuries the last three seasons, Bryant has dramatically regressed, averaging 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists on 31.5 percent shooting from the field and 19.5 percent from three-point distance.
Obviously Bryant’s body has given up on him, as he is having difficulty getting any elevation on his jump shots which has caused the poor shooting percentage.
“I’m fine man. It’s tough. 20 years. It’s tough. The legs aren’t what they used to be,” Bryant said about his shooting woes after Saturday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Bryant has had an astronomical career, winning five NBA titles, two Finals MVPs, one regular season MVP, making 17 All-Star game appearances and winning four All-Star game MVPs, making the All-NBA First Team 11 times, All-NBA Second Team twice, All-NBA Third Team three times, NBA All-Defensive First Team nine times, winning the Slam Dunk Contest in 1997, and is a two-time scoring champion.
Bryant is also third on the all-time scoring list with 32,670 points and counting. However, he will remain third behind Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and one ahead of Michael Jordan to finish out his career.
The six-foot-six two guard has spent all 20 years of his career in a Lakers uniform and is the franchise’s leading scorer.
The Los Angeles Lakers will play their final game of the season against the Utah Jazz at the STAPLES Center on April 13, a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN and will be Bryant’s final game, barring any playoff miracle by L.A.
Bryant’s final season has been frustrating to say the least, but it will nevertheless be a sad day in the NBA to witness one of the greatest shooting guards of all time retire.