Every once in a while sports fans are graced with a generational talent that amazes and awes fans across the world. A talent that wins championships, breaks records, and raises the level of play to previously unimagined heights. Examples include, Muhammad Ali, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Jim Brown, Ted Williams and Pele. Most recently one of these generational talents announced his retirement from the NBA; his name? Kobe Bryant.

First let’s take a look at the surface of Kobe’s legacy so we can truly appreciate the time we have left to watch him on the court. Kobe is currently 3rd on the all-time scoring list, just behind Karl Malone and Karem Abdul-Jabbar, and just in front of Michael Jordan; pretty good company if you ask me. He has the most seasons played with a single franchise at 20, most All-Star Game MVP’s with four out of the 17 played, and is the only player in history to have more than 30,000 points and 6,000 assists. Now if that isn’t already impressive enough, Kobe also won a NBA MVP title in 2008, two NBA scoring titles in 2006 and 2007, and five NBA Championships in seven appearances where he was named the finals MVP twice. His stats are ridiculously impressive.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/4933725064

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/4933725064

Surprisingly, despite his glowing resume, it is unlikely that Kobe will ever be remembered for lighting up the stats book. He will forever be remembered however for wanting the ball, especially under pressure and especially in that clutch moment. His confidence was through the roof, he knew he was the best player on the floor at any given moment and he demanded respect and demanded the ball. He might not have always been the most liked, the most approachable or the most charismatic guy on the floor. But Kobe Bryant’s intensity and his ability to thrive in high-pressure moments can never be disputed. Over the course of his career Kobe has hit 36 game winning shots, all of which can be seen here in a video compilation.

In sports, as in life, all good things must come to an end. Its been evident over the past few years that Kobe has been on a steady decline. At 37 years of age and in his 20th NBA season questions about retirement started popping up in the media. Kobe often shut down any rumours over the past few years about retirement, but everyone knew it was just a matter of time. This season more than ever it started to become apparent that Kobe’s performance had diminished from what it once was. He even went as far as to say that he “sucked” in an interview that can be seen here.

By Keith Allison (Flickr: Kobe Bryant) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Keith Allison (Flickr: Kobe Bryant) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Then on November 29th, via the Players Tribune website, Kobe made the announcement that was a long time in the making. In a poem titled “Dear Basketball” Kobe officially announced his retirement. In his powerful poem he describes the love for the game that he has played his entire life, discussed what he gave the game, and what the game gave him back. At the end of the poem he explains that he has nothing left to give. He goes on to say that he will savor every moment he has left within the game, as he well should after such a tremendous career.

Just as Kobe intends, we as fans should also savor every moment we get to watch him play. For as next year it will be the first time in 20 years Kobe Bryant will not step on a NBA court to compete as a player.  Athlete’s like this do not come around everyday, and often get overshadowed by up and coming talent late in their careers. Don’t take for granted the time that Kobe has left for he is truly a living sports legend. So sit back, relax, and enjoy watching Kobe hit that fade away jumper just a few more times.