NBA Great Kobe Bryant Announces He Will Retire

Updated: Nov 29, 2015 9:29 PM ET

Basketball great Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire at the end of the current NBA season.

The Los Angeles Lakers star wrote a poem on Players Tribune announcing his decision. "This season is all I have left to give," the 37-year-old wrote. The website crashed shortly after he made the posting, but has since come back online.

One stanza of the ode, directed at basketball itself, explains why it's "time to say goodbye":

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.

Bryant, who has played for the Lakers for two decades, is a 17-time All-Star and was the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points at the age of 34 — a feat that will see him retire at third on the NBA's all-time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone, and just ahead of Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.

Although Bryant's laundry-list of career achievements, including five NBA titles with the Lakers, two Finals MVP Awards and two Olympic gold medals with Team USA, have cemented his status as an all-time great, his last few seasons have been injury-plagued and forgettable. The aging superstar is currently averaging 15.7 points per game along with 3.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds — among the lowest of his storied career — after playing only 53 games over the last three seasons due to injuries to his knee, shoulder and Achilles tendon.

Bryant will sit down with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts for an in-depth interview about his retirement, the show announced on Twitter. He also penned a separate, open letter to fans of the team where he has spent a record 20 seasons.

"Whether you view me as a hero or a villain, please know I poured every emotion, every bit of passion and my entire self into being a Laker," he wrote.

https://twitter.com/ByTimReynolds/status/671128583448981505

Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, hailed Bryant as "one of the greatest players in the history of our game." Lakers coach Bryant Scott said he was "shocked" at the player's decision:

https://twitter.com/Lakers/status/671128299561594880

The Lakers will look to break a five-game losing streak and slightly improve their 2-13 record this season when they take on the Indiana Pacers Sunday night, soon after Bryant's announcement.

NEW YORK - JUNE 26: Kobe Bryant poses for a portrait after being selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft on June 26, 1996 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1996 NBAE (Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant poses for a portrait after being selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 26, 1996. He joined the NBA straight out of high school, and was immediately traded to the Lakers in a previously-agreed deal between the two teams.Andy Hayt—NBAE/Getty Images
NEW YORK - JUNE 26: Kobe Bryant poses for a portrait after being selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft on June 26, 1996 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1996 NBAE (Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 3: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers rebounds against the Minnesota Timberwolves in his first regular season game on November 3, 1996 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1996 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY - MAY 12: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers shows emotion during Game Five and Round Two of the 1997 NBA Western Conference Playoffs against the Utah Jazz on May 12, 1997 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1997 NBAE (Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan, (R) playing for the Eastern Conference, moves past Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant of the Western Division, in the second half of the NBA All-Star game at Madison Square Garden in New York February 8. The 19-year-old Bryant has been called "the next Jordan" for his flamboyant and awe-inspiring skills. SPORT NBA - RTRB795
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Kobe Bryant (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers holds the Larry O'Brian trophy as teammate Shaquille O'Neal (L) hold the MVP trophy after winning the NBA Championship against Indiana Pacers 19 June, 2000, after game six of the NBA Finals at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. The Lakers won the game 116-111 to take the NBA title 4-2 in the best-of-seven series. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 12: Kobe Bryant #8, Lindsey Hunter #10 and Shaquille O'Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate their win over the New Jersey Nets in Game four of the 2002 NBA Finals on June 12, 2002 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Lakers won 113-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright 2002 NBAE (Photo by: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - MAY 18: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to his teammate, Shaquille O'Neal #34, during game 1 of the Western Conference Finals during the 2002 NBA Playoffs against the Sacramento Kings at the Arco Arena, in Sacramento, California on May 18, 2002. The Lakers won, 106-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant (R) cries as he admits to adultery in front of his wife Vanessa, in response to today's news that Eagle County District Attorneys would press charges against him for one felony count of sexual assault, at a press conference in Los Angeles, July 18, 2003. Bryant was charged Friday with raping a 19-year-old hotel concierge at a Colorado mountain resort, in a case that has stunned fans and threatened to derail one of the most sensational careers in professional sports. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES) Pictures of the Year 2003 SEE ALSO GM1E5A10PK701 LN/SV/AA - RTRMJ78
Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant (8) drive past Toronto Raptors' Jalen Rose, left, and Chris Both in the fourth quarter of a NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 22, 2006, in Los Angeles (AP Photo/Matt A. Brown)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) shoots over New York Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari (8) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. Bryant had 61 points in the game as the Lakers won 126-117. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, raises the NBA championship trophy in front of a poster of himself on the Staples Center during a victory parade for the teams 16th NBA title, in downtown Los Angeles on Monday June 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Nov. 28, 2015 - KOBE BRYANT (24) looks to pass. The Portland Trailblazers hosted the Los Angeles Lakers at the Moda Center on November 28th, 2015. Photo by David Blair (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
Kobe Bryant poses for a portrait after being selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft
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