Kobe Bryant has just announced that this will be the final season of his NBA career. The 20-year NBA veteran posted the announcement on the Players' Tribune website in a letter entitled "Dear Basketball," wherein he said these words: "This season is all I have left to give."
He added, "My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind but my body knows it's time to say goodbye."
For a true basketball fan, it's a bittersweet moment. One of the game's most fearsome competitors, and possibly the greatest shooting guard since Michael Jordan is finally walking into the sunset. After seeing the seemingly steel-reinforced Bryant go at it game after game, season after season, with nary a dip in intensity, it'll be a strange sight to see an NBA without him.
We'll miss you, Kobe. Enjoy your final season. Your numbers are, far and away, not what they used to be. But let the critics talk; let the books say that you gave it your all until the very end.
Now, let's check out some highlights from Kobe's rookie season in 1996: