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Dear Basketball

Kobe+Bryant+is+retiring+after+the+2015-2016+NBA+season.+Photo+via+Wikimedia+under+the+Creative+Commons+license.
Kobe Bryant is retiring after the 2015-2016 NBA season. Photo via Wikimedia under the Creative Commons license.

Kobe Bryant is retiring after the 2015-2016 NBA season. Photo via Wikimedia under the Creative Commons license.

Kobe Bryant is retiring after the 2015-2016 NBA season. Photo via Wikimedia under the Creative Commons license.

Dion Bui, Sports Editor

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Just hours before the Lakers’ Sunday night matchup against the Indiana Pacers, the basketball world was scrambling on the Internet to read Kobe Bryant’s retirement letter. That’s right, Kobe Bryant has decided to retire after this year, his 20th season in the league.

¨Dear Basketball.¨ That’s how Kobe’s retirement letter begins on The Players’ Tribune. Kobe continues the letter in the form of a poem, reminiscing about how he fell in love with the game while also accepting the end to his career. He uses several pieces of imagery to truly express his devotion to the game of basketball. Fans that attended Sunday’s game were given a hard copy of the letter that was sealed inside an envelope. The letters are already up for sale on eBay for hundreds of dollars.

Bryant’s retirement announcement had an immediate effect on the league. Ticket prices for the Lakers’ final game of the season against the Utah Jazz skyrocketed. Road games now feel like home games as basketball fans across the nation come to see Kobe play his last season. Lakers’ fans commonly outnumber home fans on the road. There’s no boos for the home team, but there’s obvious cheering for Bryant and the Lakers. Announcers give him special introductions, whether he’s at Staples Center or on the road. The media focuses on him. Opponents give him hugs after the game. Road stadiums send him off with a standing ovation and loud cheers.

After 20 seasons in the league, Kobe will hang up his shoes for good as he retires just like he began: as a Los Angeles Laker. Basketball will lose one of the greatest players in NBA history and fans recognize his contribution to the game.

You can read Kobe’s full letter below (via The Players’ Tribune):

¨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¨

 

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Dear Basketball