After an impressive 20-year career, Los Angeles Lakers’ player Kobe Bryant has decided to end his love affair with basketball.
“You gave a six-year-old boy his Lakers’ 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,” Bryant wrote on the Players’ Tribune website.
He has reportedly not been playing well in recent months.
“A decision like this, you can’t make it based on outside circumstances. It has to be an internal decision, and finally I’ve decided to accept that I can’t actually do this anymore, and I’m okay with that,” he told reporters on Sunday. “It takes a weight off my shoulders and everybody else’s.”
Bryant is at peace with his decision and excited for the future.
“If I had a burning desire to continue to play, I would, and I wouldn’t be second-guessing it, I wouldn’t be on the fence. I feel very solid in my decision.”
He thanked his fans for their support throughout his career.
Lakers’ coach Byron Scott said Bryant’s decision surprised him.
“He kind of shocked me when he told me,” Scott said. “[I’m] just sad more than anything. [He’s] somebody I truly care about, have a lot of respect for. I think it’s always hard when greatness like Kobe decides to hang it up.”
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Last year, Bryant was named one of the world’s highest-paid celebrities by Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $49,5 million (R711 million).
Although Lakers’ fans will be disappointed by Bryant’s departure, he’s given them some of the most amazing games, playing a major role in delivering five NBA titles for the team.
He also made history in 1998 when he became the youngest All Star in NBA history.
Sources: ESPN, The Players’ Tribune