In a poem posted on the Players' Tribune website, five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant says that this season will be his last.
The 37-year-old Lakers player "is currently struggling through the worst season of his illustrious 20-year NBA career," as Reuters puts it.
The injury-plagued star has been very well compensated for his disappointing performance, reports ESPN:
... Despite the rough start to the season, the Lakers have publicly supported Bryant. Lakers coach Byron Scott told ESPN on Friday that he would not bench the 17-time All-Star for his poor play.
Bryant is in the final year of a two-year deal that will pay him $25 million in 2015-16, making him the NBA's highest-paid player this season.
In his poem, "Dear Basketball," Kobe writes that he has loved the sport ever since he was a kid rolling up socks and "shooting imaginary / game-winning shots."
"You asked for my hustle / I gave you my heart," he writes — and, later, "This season is all I have left to give."
It ends like this:
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.
And we both know, no matter what I do next
I'll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1
Love you always,