I remember writing an article on this site nearly a year ago – one of the first on SoCal Sports Annals, which was an open letter to this man saying that due to his age and numerous season-ending injuries, he should call it a career.
As the title of this piece says, it seems as if Kobe Bryant has seen the light at last and accepted reality, a reality that ALL athletes, without exception, face.
In the movie Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, there’s a scene depicting Beane as a high school player talking with major league scouts who wanted to sign him to his first contract.
I vividly recall something one of those scouts said to a young Beane regarding the longevity and precariousness of a sports career:
“We’re all told that we can’t play this game anymore. Some of us are told at 18, some of us are told at 30. But we’re all told.”
In Kobe’s case, after three straight seasons which ended in injury and – his 31-point performance in his most recent game against the Washington Wizards notwithstanding – showing every bit of his 37 years on NBA courts with his ineffectiveness, he has apparently told himself that he can’t play basketball at the very high level that he has long accustomed to playing.
That’s why I say that he has seen the light, of which I am glad.
Everyone will more than agree that Kobe is a first-ballot hall of famer; that’s the ultimate given.
The numbers don’t lie:
* A 17-time all-star (only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with 19, has been on more all-star teams)
* The only player in NBA history with 30,000 points and 6,000 assists
* Five NBA championships
* The all-time leading scorer in Lakers history
* Third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (only Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone have scored more points)
Those are just a miniscule amount of accomplishments that he has had; if I listed them all, this post would reach nearly 2,000 words.
In fact, though (just being honest here) I wasn’t always a huge fan of Kobe due to his not-always-the-nicest-personality, evident in how other stars like Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard feuded and chafed at playing with him, I personally consider him the third greatest Laker of all time behind Kareem and Magic Johnson.
I certainly did NOT want him to go out like Babe Ruth, who batted a pathetic .181 in his last season with the Boston Braves and looked terrible while doing so – save for that game which he hit his last three home runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Or Willie Mays, who not only batted just .211 for the New York Mets in his final year, showed his age when he failed to catch up to a ball in the World Series.
Those careers, wonderful as they were, did not end well.
And in my view Kobe Bryant was heading that same path; check out his 1-for-14 shooting night earlier this year sometime.
Now that he has accepted the fact that he is no different from any other athlete with regards to having an expiration date, Kobe will be free to pursue his other interests such as rap – he has dabbled in that genre – his philantrophies like the After School All-Stars, and Kobe Inc., his business which produces different sports-related entities.
After all, 37 years of age may be old for a basketball player with nearly 20 seasons of wear and tear under his belt, but not old for regular life as he has a lot of living to do.
Even though it’s early and the actual retirement won’t be official for another four months, I wanted to give Kobe Bryant a pronounced thank you for a most outstanding 20 years in purple and gold, plying his trade at Staples Center and the Forum before that.
And like all of Laker Nation and everyone in SoCal who follows hoops, wish him nothing but the best.
A great shot of the newest SoCal sports legend bringing the ball up the court during a game. Photo courtesy of new-hdwallpaperz.blogspot.in