Kobe Bryant announces retirement his way*

kobe-dear-basketball.jpgBanner on The Players' Tribune site with photo of Kobe Bryant by Walter Iooss Jr.

The Players' Tribune comes through again as a forum for athletes to speak their minds their way, after careers of always being interpreted through one media lens or another. On Sunday, the site posted Kobe Bryant explaining that this will be his last year in the NBA. It's written as a Dear Basketball note. "From the moment I started rolling my dad’s tube socks, and shooting imaginary game-winning shots In the Great Western Forum, I knew one thing was real: I fell in love with you," he begins.

The bottom line:

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
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.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

The news apparently crashed the Players' Tribune website for about 45 minutes. A separate letter from Bryant was placed on every seat at Staples Center before tonight's Lakers game against the Pacers. Bryant is in his 20th season with the Lakers — a terrible team this year, with a 2-13 record. Coach Byron Scott said he was told last night.

* Post-game update: Transcript of Bryant's sit-down with the media.

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