After 20 years of service in Los Angeles, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will take the court one last time tonight before heading into retirement.
The Lakers’ 2015-2016 season morphed into a farewell tour after Bryant announced he would be retiring back in November. Teams around the league have shown their respect for the Black Mamba on his last visit to their city, showering the living legend with gifts and tribute videos.
Now, with his final game upon us, the swell of appreciation has reached a crescendo. Lakers Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson got in on the act, offering his own personal thank you to Bryant in a letter posted to his website, The Playbook.
Every night you played, I couldn’t wait to watch knowing that I would witness an unbelievable shot or move that I had never seen on the court. I marveled at the skills and loved the energy you brought to the game wearing that purple and gold uniform. You never disappointed the city, Laker fans, and basketball fans worldwide. All you cared about was winning games and championships and that’s why so many people love you.
Johnson’s touching words strike at the heart of what endeared Bryant to Lakers fans for so long. With a work ethic that is unparalleled, Kobe gave the franchise and city everything it could have asked for and then some. He maximized every drop of athletic talent that he had at his disposal, going to obsessive lengths to be the best that he could be.
While Bryant will absolutely be missed, his jersey will soon be found alongside the other Lakers legends in the STAPLES Center rafters. Tonight, fans will have one final opportunity to show their thanks, and say goodbye to the man who captivated the basketball world for two decades.