Monday, November 30, 2015 11:37 am
Kobe Bryant says he still loves competition, but admits that his body can no longer handle the rigors of professional basketball as he announced that this will be his final NBA season.
The 37-year-old five-time champion will retire as one of the greatest clutch players in history, and after spending his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I have known for awhile. I am very solid with this decision,” he said. “If I had a burning desire to play I would.
“I don’t want to get too Zen like. But my mind always started drifting toward basketball and it doesn’t do that all the time anymore. To me that is the first indicator that this game isn’t something I can obsess over much longer.”
Bryant, a member of two Olympic US gold medal squads, has been nagged by injuries in recent campaigns and has struggled to find his form this season, as the Lakers are off to a miserable 2-14 start.
Bryant said that despite the injuries, the never-ending rehabs and the habitual losing over the last few seasons, he is still enjoys getting out on the floor and going into battle.
“There is no sadness in this,” he said. “I had such great times.
“I find beauty in adversity and not being able to play at the highest level.
“I see beauty when I get up in the morning with pain because I know the hard work it took to get to this point.”
Bryant has averaged 25.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists over 1,280 games.
This season, with the Lakers stripped of much of the supporting cast that usually bolsters him, Bryant was averaging 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists heading into Sunday’s game.
Bryant also said it is sometimes frustrating not being able to make a cut, drive hard to the basket or keep his balance when chasing a loose ball like he used to when he was younger and healthier.
“I worked so hard. Really, really hard to try not to play like crap,” he said.
Bryant was introduced to a roaring ovation when the Sunday game began.
Bryant said that he gave each spectator a “special message” printed on white paper with gold and black lettering that read, “My love to this city, this team and for each of you will never fade. Thank you for this incredible journey.”