Written by Naoki Nomura
Photography by Bleacher Report
Kobe Bryant, a five time NBA champion and a seventeen time NBA all star has announced retirement. Kobe, 37 years old, has been haunted by injuries for the last few seasons limiting him to an average of 40 games per season. Every Kobe or Los Angeles Lakers fan knew that sooner or later the greatest player of the 2000’s era would hang up his jersey. However, the sudden mid season announcement by Kobe following the Laker’s 107-130 loss against the Indiana Pacers caught a lot of people by surprise. The announcement came through a poem Kobe wrote and posted online, titled “Dear Basketball”, a poem explaining Kobe’s unconditional love towards the game. However towards the end of the poem Kobe dropped a stanza that will be remembered in basketball history forever. Kobe wrote,
“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 (Dear Basketball).”
Social media and various media outlets flooded with articles and posts related to the Kobe’s retirement. As NBA fans gradually start to embrace the reality of losing a legend, a question concerning Kobe’s retirement has sparked debate within the NBA community. Should Kobe Bryant retire or should he stay for a few more seasons?
One side of the debate argues, that even though his physical ability is falling, he may still have a place in the league as a player/coach figure. Throughout his career Kobe has been known as a fierce and selfish competitor, adapting to the habit of barking out orders to his teammates. The intensity and aggression he brought to games and practices got former teammate and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal so fired up that he threatened to murder Kobe on national television. However, we cannot ignore that fact that whatever Kobe did during games and practices has brought the city of Los Angeles five NBA championships and seven NBA finals appearances: the most in Los Angeles Lakers franchise history. The current Lakers have been on a slump lately. While having the second worst record in the NBA this season, they are rebuilding upon rookies such as 2015 draft second pick D’Angelo Russell and NBA all rookie first team player Jordan Clarkson. For the next few seasons they are going to need a veteran player to guide them. Being a Laker it makes sense for Kobe to stay in the team for a while longer, possibly shaping up a championship contending team by bringing his intensity and competitiveness to the games every night.
On the other hand, the other side of the debate sides with Kobe thinking it is time for him to retire. NBA hall of famer Charles Barkley commented, “I hope he retires, because I don’t want to see — I probably played two years too long. I hate to see Patrick Ewing, great as he was, struggle — I don’t like seeing great players struggling out there, you know?(Charles Barkley)” As Charles Barkley said, greats should retire as greats rather than spoil his hard earned stats for a few extra seasons.
As much as people want Kobe to stay in the league, the reality is that he is hanging up his jersey. Kobe has already declined an invitation to play in an Italian basketball league, and is currently visiting teams around the league for the last time in his career. Kobe has had a stellar career and the NBA community has nothing other than respect for the Lakers legend.