Why Kobe Bryant’s Retirement Announcement Came at the Right Time by Nigel Broadnax

beans done

Be PEace Beans. 

For the first month and change of the season, Kobe Bryant has looked the part of a player on the ropes against Father Time. Nearly 70 percent of of his shots have been off target, his mobility has been languid, and his lift has been met with plenty of gravity.

It’s very much felt like the near-end for Kobe as he grinds through the early stages of his 20th season in the league— all as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Despite the ominous feeling, the five-time champion had been reluctant to declare this his closing act. He had no interest in opting for a season-long going away party, traveling from city to city being paid respects by thousands at a time.

While he’s hinted at it here and there in past weeks, he finally revealed his intentions to hang it up at season’s end via a heartfelt public letter to the game of basketball. In it he expressed a fading desire to sacrifice his body in the name of love for the sport after doing it at extreme levels for most of his life. He expressed a now willing desire to relish the next four and a half months as his final ones as an active player. With this comes his decision to let his guard down, and allow everyone say goodbye to him gradually.

And it’s better this way.

We, as lovers of the game, deserve to know Kobe is officially on the final stage of his professional playing tenure. We deserve a lengthy opportunity to voice and present our appreciation and respect for him on his way out and watch his final games with a savoring state of mind. The act of retiring on the spot at a later date would have been unfair to everyone who has loved him, to the ones who’ve been entertained by him and even to the ones who’ve hated him.

The Kobe Bryant era has brought many powerful emotions to its consumers. Euphoria from him winning. Animosity from him beating your team. Envy from his success. Despair from watching him lose. Sympathy from seeing his on and off court struggles. An experience of this magnitude that has provided such a wide range of sensation requires adequate time before its conclusion to bid farewell to. It can’t just be stripped away from us abruptly. Mental preparation is needed and it can’t take place in a mere instant.

We need to now smile at his final made jump shots. We need to now shed a tear every time he successfully performs a pump fake on his opponents. We need to now take it in for each of his remaining trips to the free throw line. He’s allowing us time for that now.

Announcing the retirement in advance also smooths out everything happening with the Lakers right now. They are in the midst of another horrid season filled with hard-to-watch basketball. The offense is unorganized and the defense is far from better.

Kobe’s been the poster child for the painful play. He continues to frequently toss up shots that he can’t make with consistency any more, he remains the team’s leader in usage rate as well as the second leader in minutes (trailing only Jordan Clarkson) and head coach Byron Scott insists on enabling him into this behavior despite his deficiencies and and favoring him over young players who need the reps. (Scott’s baffling nepotism toward Kobe in search of wins that just aren’t coming is a whole nother discussion.)

This season has been uncomfortable because the Lakers’ motive has been to win— which they’re now failing to do— and perhaps to move forward with Kobe. It’s been a strain on us, and likely himself, witnessing him play at career-low levels with the idea that he’s a current player. The idea that he’s now a outgoing player removes the burden.

His retirement disclosure allows the team to realize they will be moving on soon. It allows the front office to properly and fully map out what the post-Kobe era will be. It frees them of the focus of trying to be a playoff team for Kobe’s sake which hurt their future.

Now that it’s out there that the end of the era is on its way, this season is transformed into a celebration rather than a collection of cringe-worthy games. Kobe’s poor performance will no longer hurt to watch as much as it has. We don’t have to feel sorry for his physical impotence any more. Instead we’ll just cherish the fact that we’re seeing him grace the court for one of the last times.

Life, in many cases, is about not being aware of what you have until it’s gone. For nearly two decades, Kobe Bryant has provided one of the more compelling and polarizing careers in NBA history. It’s been easy to get lost in many of the dramatic individual moments of it. At times it felt like it would last longer than it ultimately will. Perhaps Kobe wasn’t adequately appreciated when his mortality wasn’t obvious. His greatness put us in awe and took our minds off of the idea that he wouldn’t be around forever.

It was almost too late, but Kobe is now giving us the green light to acknowledge what we currently have, and send him off properly before the curtain is closed for good. He’s meant too much to the game for us to subject him to anything else. He’s a living legend and it’s time to honor him throughout the departure.

We deserve it.

And even though his pride may cause him to be bashful about it, he deserves it too.

2 Responses to “Why Kobe Bryant’s Retirement Announcement Came at the Right Time by Nigel Broadnax”

  1. D.N. says:

    nicely done

  2. Yes, Nigel. This is excellent.