Kobe Bryant officially announced his retirement from the NBA on Sunday in the least Kobe Bryant way possible. By poem.

Dear Basketball, 

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks


And shooting imaginary


Game-winning shots


In the Great Western Forum


I knew one thing was real:



I fell in love with you.

So much for iambic pentameter.

Bryant’s ode to hoops should have come as little shock to NBA fans, who have seen this coming for a long time, or to casual sports fans, who probably thought Bryant retired two seasons ago. The surprise came in the execution.

First, a poem?

Second, Bryant didn’t announce his retirement at a team-scheduled press conference. He didn’t do a sit-down interview with ESPN or TNT or NBA TV. He didn’t have Nike send out a press release on his behalf. Instead, Bryant retired via The Players’ Tribune, the venture founded and written by (amem) the athletes themselves.

The direct-to-fan model of TPT can be a huge success for players, cutting out the media who might twist their words while connecting with fans on a more intimate level. Only the man tabbed Editorial Director of the Derek Jeter-led media project—for what it’s worth Bryant’s posts do not currently list his title under his by line—must have forgotten to tell the tech team when the post was coming, because the poem managed to crash the site’s servers. From Deadline Hollywood:

The not entirely unexpected announcement from the 37-year old 5-time NBA championship winner Bryant promptly crashed the Derek Jeter founded pro-athletes site for almost an hour on Sunday afternoon.

The site is back live and kicking. And the thing is, as basketball retirement poems go, it’s a great poem.

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.

It’s a great poem. It’s a site-crashingly great poem, followed up by a letter given to all Lakers fans in attendance for Sunday’s home loss to the Pacers.

Poem or not, you can’t crash paper and ink.

Also, if you’re one of the 20 best players in the history of a sport and want to retire in style, this one is going to be tough to beat, crashed servers or not.

About Dan Levy

Dan Levy has written a lot of words in a lot of places, most recently as the National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. He was host of The Morning B/Reakaway on Sirius XM's Bleacher Report Radio for the past year, and previously worked at Sporting News and Rutgers University, with a concentration on sports, media and public relations.

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