"This season is all I have left to give," Kobe Bryant writes at the Players' Tribune, announcing his retirement in a moving poem that also serves as a love letter to the game. "My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it's time to say goodbye. And that's OK," writes Bryant, who has spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before Sunday's game against the Indiana Pacers, which the Lakers lost 107-103, Lakers coach Byron Scott addressed the announcement, saying the 37-year-old's "purpose is to finish out this season and play," reports ESPN. Scott told reporters that he was "shocked" when Bryant told him of his plan to retire, though ESPN notes that the player has spoken of the possibility several times recently.
In a statement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Bryant one of history's greatest players, citing his "17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals," as well as his "relentless work ethic" and "unconditional love for the game." In his poem, Bryant writes of how he has been in love with basketball since he was a 6-year-old boy rolling his dad's socks "and shooting imaginary game-winning shots." But after giving it all he has, "I'm ready to let you go," he writes. "I want you to know now. So we both can savor every moment we have left together." Mashable reports that the attention from all around the world crashed the Players' Tribune website, which is now back online. (Click to watch what happened when a 14-year-old challenged Kobe to play one-on-one.)