Heading into his 20th season with the Los Angeles Lakers, there were questions if Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of his two-year, $48.5 million contract.
While the five-time champion stated numerous times he would not make a decision until after the season, he announced his retirement in a poem on The Players’ Tribune before the game against the Indiana Pacers.
With former and current players reacting to the news, Magic Johnson had high praise for Kobe and called him ‘the closest thing we’ve seen to Michael Jordan’ according to Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports:
“He’s the closest thing we’ve seen to Michael Jordan,” Johnson said. “He’ll probably go down as the second greatest scoring guard. You couldn’t stop him. His will to win was incredible and he stayed in the gym like no other. This guy was 24/7 basketball. I’m happy for him because he said he feels this is his time to go out. He’s going out the way he wants to go out.”
While there were concerns Kobe would struggle with the idea of retirement, he seems at peace with his decision. After five championships in 20 seasons, he has accomplished everything possible in his career and will go down as one of the greatest to ever play this game.
With Kobe officially making his announcement, the Lakers will travel to face the Philadelphia 76ers to begin an eight-game road trip. After years of getting booed by his hometown, it will be a special moment for the five-time champion as he plays there one final time.