Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant requested that opposing teams don't plan ceremonies or gift presentations during the remaining road games of his career.
Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding reported Bryant made the decision because he doesn't want to "detract from [games]." Ding added the five-time NBA champion wants it to feel like "business as usual," with either private moments or video tributes while on the road.
It has become common for high-profile athletes who are retiring to go through a farewell tour. Each opponent tends to honor the player with a chance to get appreciated by the crowd and then hands over a gift, typically a regional novelty. New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is a recent example.
Clearly Bryant isn't interested in following a similar path.
Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News noted the Washington Wizards honored Bryant briefly during a first-quarter timeout Wednesday:
Ultimately, for somebody who showcased such an extreme competitive nature throughout his career, openly accepting gifts from opponents before a game just doesn't fit the mold. So it's no surprise he's trying to limit the amount of attention in that regard.
He would probably prefer to go through his final 30 road games like the ones during his prime, with opposing supporters relentlessly booing him while he lights up the scoreboard for 40 points. But most fans want to appreciate his prior on-court greatness, and those types of performances from him are now fleeting.
So Bryant wants to strike the right balance between taking in the appreciation and respecting the fact that there's still a game to play.