The end of the regular 2015-16 NBA season will also mark the end of an era. Last night, Kobe Bryant announced that he will retire once the Lakers’ season has ended.
Bryant, a 20-season veteran has played all of his games as a Los Angeles Laker, after being drafted out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Lakers on draft night.
Throughout his career, Kobe has been called arguably one of the best players to touch a basketball and who many players have modeled their style of play after. The NBA star has gained the respect of his teammates and fans, but after a long and successful career, the 37-year old has decided to hang up his sneakers, as written in an open letter he penned on theplayerstribune.com.
The poem-like letter, tweeted via Bryant’s Twitter account, caused many fans and sports names to pay homage to the veteran.
In his career, Kobe Bryant has earned one MVP award, held a position on 17 All-Star teams since his second season in the NBA, and was an integral part of the 2008 Summer Olympic basketball squad, nicknamed the Redeem Team, to mimic the 1992 Dream Team featuring Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Bryant’s idol, Michael Jordan.
Despite having a reputation for being a tough teammate to get along with, Kobe is also known for his confidence and his “killer instinct” late in close games. One of his most notable games was against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, scoring 81 points, the second most points scored in an NBA game since Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 -point game in 1962.
Bryant’s other accomplishments include being the youngest player in league history to score 30,000 career points at 34 years and 104 days old and earning 5 NBA championships with the L.A. Lakers.
Bryant ran into legal trouble in the summer of 2003, being accused of sexual assault by a 19-year old hotel employee in Colorado. After the accuser refused to testify, the assault charges were dropped but the allegations tarnished Bryant’s reputation.
After being plagued with several injuries in the past few seasons, Bryant’s Lakers have struggled, with a record of 27-55 in the 2014-15 season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
In the past 14 hours since his announcement of retirement, ticket prices for Bryant’s last game as a Laker have tripled to $1,388.60, according to CNN.