Uncertain of his future, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant finally confirmed his plans to retire after the current season following 20 legendary years with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant made his intentions known Sunday in a letter on The Players' Tribune entitled Dear Basketball.
"This season is all I have left to give," Bryant said at an internet platform called The Players' Tribute. "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," he wrote.
"I want you to know now, so we can both savor every moment we have left together ... the good and the bad," the message continues. "We have given each other all we have."
Bryant has dropped hints this season prior to making the formal announcement that has widely been expected.
Bryant is the NBA's third all-time scorer and owns five championship rings with the Lakers, but the former league MVP hardly resembles the force of those golden days.
At age 37, his body has taken the toll of more than 55,000 minutes played during his spectacular career, as well as an assortment of injuries that has slowed down the "Black Mamba."
Over the last three seasons, Bryant has played in just 53 games because of Achilles, knee and shoulder injuries.
The 17-time All-Star is averaging just 15.7 points per game on a nightmarish 31.5 per cent field goal shooting and a frosty 19.5 per cent from behind the 3-point arc for the 2-12 Lakers.
"It was so matter-of-fact, and [he] was so at peace," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "It wasn't like he was agonizing about it or anything."
The NBA Commissioner Adam Silver saluted the decorated future Hall of Famer.
"With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA, MVP, five NBA Championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game," Silver said. "Whether competing in the finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has unconditional love for the game."
He said he joined Kobe's millions of fans around the world "in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories."
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