Kobe Bryant spent 20 seasons and 1346 games with the Lakers – had to bring the curtains down on a legendary career sometime.
33,643 points, 6307 assists, 7407 assists, and 5 championships. That is just the one-line compressed CV of Kobe Bryant. He did this with 2 different numbers on his jersey, both now retired by the Los Angeles Lakers. There are not many athletes who have such a fan following in a city as Kobe does in LA, maybe Michael Jordan in Chicago, LeBron James in Akron, and Steph Curry in the Bay area.
Each game he played after 2012 seemed very labored and forced, and after he tore his Achilles, it was even worse. That was the darkest period of the Lakers organization after winning 5 championships the previous decade. The team was constantly tanking, and the people he played with did not care at all.
After playing with competitors like Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol, playing with Robert Sacre and Nick Young was a huge step-down. This period was the worst of Kobe’s time in the league, and he had a lot of time to think about his future. He was not getting any younger, his body was failing him, and the team was not getting any better to support him.
Kobe Bryant made the right decision to retire in 2016 – he was struggling, and it was very evident for everyone to see
In an interview, he said he used to do 15 minutes a day of meditation to just think and relax. Each time he did that, his mind would always wander back to the game of basketball. But when he realized it was no longer as frequent and he thought about other things, he knew his time was coming to an end.
Kobe was a guy who was obsessed with the game when it came to him playing, but when he let go, he truly let go. He played his last game at Utah and bowed out in the best way possible. Once he retired, he took some time off and moved to other areas he wanted to explore which he could not do while playing.
He produced a basketball short film and got an Oscar, started the Mamba Sports Academy, invested in Body Armor, and left behind a beautiful and resilient family. It’s a shame he got taken away so soon, but everything comes to an end.