We all saw it coming, but on Sunday, Kobe Bryant announced that the 2015-16 NBA season would be the last in his Hall of Fame career, and that he would retire after this season. The one-time MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, four-time All-Star game MVP, five-time NBA champion, 17-time All-Star, 11-time First Team All-NBA and 20-year veteran revealed it would be his last season in a poem, one the kids didn’t understand because it didn’t rhyme. (But hey, at least it was short enough that they may have even read the whole thing before going back to their Twitters, Vines, Instagrams and trying to be all on fleek.)
Kobe wrote a special letter to fans, too.
Here’s how the letter begins: “Some of you took me in. Some of you didn’t. But all of you helped me become the player and man in front of you today.”
And how he closes it: “”My love for this city, this team and for each of you will never fade. Thank you for this incredible journey.”
-He also wrote a personalized letter to each Lakers player, including this one to Metta World Peace, his teammate on the NBA champion Lakers in 2010:
-“He’s the closest thing we’ve seen to Michael Jordan,” Magic Johnson told Yahoo in perhaps the greatest compliment the MJ-obsessed Kobe will ever get from anyone not named MJ. “He’ll probably go down as the second greatest scoring guard. You couldn’t stop him. His will to win was incredible and he stayed in the gym like no other. This guy was 24/7 basketball. I’m happy for him because he said he feels this is his time to go out. He’s going out the way he wants to go out.”
-Adrian Wojnarowski attempted to answer why Kobe came to his decision to retire at the end of this season.
-Here’s our look back at Kobe’s 81-point night, which they replayed on ESPN last night to commemorate his announcement.
-SB Nation decided to have a little fun with Kobe’s anthropomorphic letter to Basketball in the Players’ Tribune piece where he revealed he was retiring. Here’s “Basketball’s” mean-spirited response to Kobe — we get it, he’s been pretty bad in season No. 20.
-Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak wasn’t surprised at the announcement, but the timing:
“I’m not surprised. The surprising part of this is that he made the announcement today. My understanding all along was that this was going to be his last year. Certainly there’s been speculation and this puts an end to any speculation that he may come back for another year. But it was my understanding all along.”
-Despite shooting an atrocious 4-of-20 from the field on Sunday night during the Lakers’ 107-103 loss the Pacers, Bean was able to offer up one more moment of magic, drilling a late three-pointer in Paul George’s eye to cut the lead to one with under 15 seconds to play, then laughing with PG-13 about the absurdity of the whole thing.
-But his shot to tie the score at the buzzer missed everything, lending credence to more totally original Kobe jokes on social media.
-His current Lakers teammates offered up salutations on Instagram Sunday night despite the loss:
-A lot of people around the NBA and those kewl kidz on your timeline had a few things to say about Bean hanging it up. For the most part, they honored his legacy in the game:
Isaac’s was the best.
-And former and current players reflected back on Vino, too:
View this post on Instagram
Thank you @kobebryant for 20 years of EXCELLENCE!! I remember when you were just a puppy and Arn (Tellem) had me call you, my #Pacers had just finished losing a TOUGH 7 game series to that #BlackCat Michael Jordan led #Bulls team, I was explaining to you how difficult it was in trying to guard him. I remember so vividly your response and how prophetic it was, "Well the #CaramelCat is going to be just as tough".. Very true my friend.. So #BlackMamba, please enjoy these next 4 months, please allow the fans to serenade you, as hard as it may be for you, ALLOW it.. The early morning workouts, the late night trips to the weight room were all worth it, sit back and EXHALE!! As you leave your only responsibility is to make sure @dloading, @jclark5on and @juliusrandle30 have that same burning fire🔥🔥🔥you always played with.. So as we embraced last night I hope you felt the respect, honor and privilege it was to face you twice a year. I absolutely LOVED it, now enjoy the #LoveFest Caramel Cat.. #VirgosStickTogether
-And, of course, every Kobe game-winner:
-Here are some stats, via ESPN, to offer some context to his otherworldly offensive game.
–And even more stats because Bryant deserves more than just a cursory glance at impressive career numbers during his 20-year stretch in the Lakers backcourt, the most ever by a guard in NBA history.
And here’s even more from fellow players, fans and other athletes.
Kobe may be retiring after this year, but he’s got some future Mamba monsters to train…