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Kobe Bryant Discusses Decision to Announce Retirement Early in Season

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2016

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 10:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to the media during a press conference before playing the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 10, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bill Baptist/Getty Images

Longtime Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant stated Friday he announced his decision to retire early in the season to help the franchise begin planning for a future without him.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN passed along comments about the situation from the 37-year-old veteran, who didn't think it would have felt right to stretch the decision-making process out until season's end:

I knew what I was going to do, so why wait? I'm not going to hold [Lakers'] management hostage either, because they need to start thinking about what it is they want to do [after I'm gone]. And going through this entire season not knowing, that's not fair. So if you know, let the world know and let them know.

Bryant announced his intent to retire with a poem on the Players' Tribune in late November. Fans from around the NBA have responded with warm welcomes during his final stops in various cities and also made him the top vote-getter for Sunday's All-Star Game.

The five-time NBA champion is no longer playing at a top-tier level. He's averaging just 16.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 34.9 percent from the floor this season. So, the All-Star selection is more of a lifetime achievement award at the end of a Hall of Fame career.

Yet it wouldn't be a surprise if Bryant is able to steal the spotlight during the game. With the Lakers way out of playoff contention, the All-Star Game is probably the most important contest left in his career, even if the result doesn't mean anything.

One thing that set Bryant apart from the pack throughout his run of success was his competitive fire. Nobody could exceed his desire to win games, and Sunday offers one more chance to prove he can still hang with the likes of LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Since Bryant announced his decision to retire, it makes these moments a little more special. And it helps the Lakers better understand their path forward.

Regardless of Sunday's result and Bryant's performance in the game, expect an All-Star sendoff from the crowd in Toronto.

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