Dear Kobe,

(Kobe retires from the game of basketball today. This poem mimics his swan song, “Dear Basketball”, that came out in The Players Tribune on Nov. 29, 2015. If you haven’t read that yet, you should do that first. This is intended to run parallel with it. This is my farewell.)

Dear Kobe,

From the moment you declared eligibility
In the 1996 NBA draft,
With those silly sunglasses on top of your head,
We knew one thing was real:

We fell in love with you.

A love so deep we gave you our all — 
Because you gave it your all –
From mind & body,
To your spirit & soul.

As a basketball fanatic
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw you
Running out of one.

You ran.
Up and down every court
After every loose ball.
The game asked for your hustle,
You gave it your heart.
You gave US your heart.

You played through the sweat and hurt
Not to prove a point
But because basketball was the love of your life
Because that’s what legends do
Despite the challenges
Set forth before you by the naysayers

You gave all of us our Laker dream
And we’ll always love you for it.
But we can’t selfishly want to keep you around forever
We know you have given it everything you have left to give.
Our hearts are pounding
Our minds are racing
As it’s time for us to say goodbye.

But Kobe,
It’s okay.
We are ready to let you go.
We want you to know how much
We have savored every moment we’ve had with you.
The good and the bad.
We have given you our unending support,
You have given us and the game of basketball
So much more.

We both know, no matter what you do next
You’ll always be that kid
With the silly glasses on your head,
Jersey-pulling, heart-baring,
:05 seconds on the shot clock
Ball in your hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,
Laker fans everywhere

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