The Los Angeles Lakers star announced in an open letter on the Players' Tribune that he'll retire at the end of the 2015-16 campaign:
Bryant also wrote an open letter for fans (via Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press):
The Lakers provided the letter to every fan attending Sunday night's game against the Indiana Pacers:
ESPN The Magazine's Don Van Natta Jr. argued Kobe is still unable to escape Michael Jordan's massive shadow even as he pens his retirement letter:
"Sad. We talked about it last night," said Lakers head coach Byron Scott, per the team's Twitter account. "I told him it kind of shocked me when he told me."
Scott also reminisced about Bryant's career:
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (via the NBA's Twitter account) provided a statement on the news:
On Sunday's edition of NBA Game Time, Brent Barry and Rick Fox, the latter of whom played with Bryant on the Lakers, reacted to the news:
Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant's most famous teammate given their up-and-down relationship in Los Angeles, took the time to wish Bryant well in retirement:
Pau Gasol, who helped Bryant win two more championships after O'Neal's departure, also paid tribute to Bryant:
Watching Kobe this year has been somewhat depressing for basketball fans everywhere. The greatest scorer of his generation, now 37, entered Sunday averaging 15.7 points a night on 31.5 percent shooting. Rather than adjusting his game to deal with the effects of old age, Bryant remains the same high-volume shooter he was in his prime, and the results have been predictably disastrous.
Still, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix is of the opinion that Bryant's final years will be largely forgotten much in the same way Jordan's seasons with the Washington Wizards were:
SportsCenter noted the numerous accolades Bryant has earned during his time on the court, which will overshadow the injury-plagued twilight of his legendary career:
ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst rued one aspect of Kobe's legacy that will go unfulfilled:
Bryant will wind up the third-highest scorer in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and fifth in made field goals. The advanced metrics aren't quite as generous for Kobe in part due to his poor shot selection at times. FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver decided to have one more playful jab at the 2-guard:
For those interested in following the Kobe Bryant retirement tour, Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears highlighted the most interesting games left on the Lakers' schedule:
Yahoo Sports' Eric Freeman envisions an All-Star send-off for Bryant in Toronto as well:
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Bryant might also receive a swansong with Team USA as USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo confirmed Kobe could still be a member of the team that goes to the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The timing of Bryant's announcement leaves fans with more than enough time to get their last looks at Kobe before he hangs it up for good. It certainly would've been a shame if he decided to retire with little fanfare at the end of the year.