Kobe Bryant is retiring


In his current state, we knew Kobe Bryant would be sticking around the NBA long. All that lacked was a specific time frame to celebrate his past excellence as his career came to an end, but with a poem published by the Los Angeles Lakers star on The Players Tribune, we now know when: Bryant announced that this will be his last season, and will retirement at the season’s end.

Even if Bryant believed his end became because of a lack of love for the game, the real culprit in the situation will be how his body betrayed him in consecutive seasons, disallowing the former great to compete at levels his mind still thinks capable; in a nutshell, Kobe will leave the league as he entered, believing he’s still one of the best doing, regardless of the results of his actions.

While it’s fairly easy for most Clippers fans to easy on over to Staples Center and catch numerous showings of Bryant in his last run, for those who’d rather key in on his last meetings against the Clippers the dates that’ll be relevant to you are Dec. 25, Jan. 29, Apr. 5, and Apr. 6.

Dec.25 marks the first meeting between the Clippers and Lakers, that being the last game shown during the NBA’s Christmas spectacle — giving his recent past, hopefully Bryant makes it to this point in the season without getting injured.

Jan. 29 stands as a normal home game for the Clippers.

Apr.5, barring a Brett Favre, Michael Jordan-esque comeback, will stand as Bryant’s final away game against the Clippers, with the following day (a home-at-home) being his final game against the Clippers, ever.

Regardless of how you feel about Bryant, that’s a bittersweet moment.

For his career, Bryant, as of now, has averaged 25.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in 66 games against the Los Angeles Clippers, with 47 of those 66 games being wins in his favor — given the state of both the Lakers and Bryant today, you can expect to add some loses to the list and a drop in statistics on his end.

The most popular of those 66 games against the Clippers, back when Bryant, during the previous “dark days” for the Lakers when 24 was surrounded by the likes of Smush Parker, Chris Mihm, Kwame Brown, and Lamar Odom (the lone good fellow), is his 50-point outing against the club in 2006, with 40 of the points coming in the second half — by the way, the Clippers’ leading scorer in that game was Cutting Mobley with 36 points.

The footage is posted below, and outside of him not toppling his daunting 81-point mark, this was vintage Vino, doing whatever he wanted against the defenders the Clippers sent his way. Fadeaway’s from the free-throw line, on the lower block, dunks in the half court, in transition, finishing through contact at the rim, over the double team. Whatever Bryant wanted to do, he was able to do it, which is a testament to the bulk of his NBA career and playing style.

Other notable Kobe Bryant-Clippers moments? Two that may cause a twinge of pain in the Clippers’ fanbases’ side.

The first, the Clippers deciding not to draft Bryant in 1996 because, by Bryant’s words, he was “too young”. “I had a really good workout with the Clippers,” Bryant told Jimmy Kimmel back in 2013. “They told me, ‘This is the best workout we’ve ever seen.’ I’m like ‘Oh man. I’m excited. I’m going to L.A. All right, are you going to draft me?’ ‘No.’

“I asked them why they wouldn’t draft me. They said, ‘We want to turn things around with our organization,’” Bryant continued. “’We felt like if we drafted a 17 year old kid, that the city of Los Angeles wouldn’t take us seriously.’ So they said, ‘We can’t draft you.”

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    The second, a more favorable option than the second as Bryant had been in the league long enough to prove superstardom: when Kobe was oh-so close to signing with the Clippers back in 2004.

    Odds are, it was a giant bluff to make sure the Lakers greeted him with the best offer possible in free agency, but before Blake Griffin and the Chris Paul trade, the Clippers were never that close to a bonafide star that’d help shed the laughing stock label. Meeting with Bryant after the Lakers and offering him $100 million+? That’s the best the franchise could do. The rest lied in the hands of Kobe, and as you may know, eventually returned to the Lakers. The results of such? Three NBA Finals appearances and two NBA championship victories, in 2009 and 2010.

    But now? It’s the end for the Mamba. He’s a trainwreck of a NBA player right now (averaging 15.5 points on 30 percent shooting) and doing far more damage than any positive he could contribute for a team. And with his announcement we can remove ourselves from conversations that’d ponder if Bryant would return to the Lakers next season, if the Lakers would opt to not re-sign him, if he’d go play with his friends Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher in New York, or the funniest, if Doc Rivers would be crazy enough to pursue Bryant as a free agent, because that’d be the most “Doc the GM” thing ever.

    Ah well. It was a fun ride for 24. Now, he’s at the end.