Kobe Bryant Announces His Retirement. Thank God.

Most of us have been too busy watching Steph Curry make history and haven’t cared to pay too much attention to the atrocity that has been transcending Los Angeles basketball. But Kobe Bryant hasn’t just been playing bad for Kobe Bryant. He’s been playing like a bad D-league player on the verge of being sent to eastern Europe.

Because his body can’t hold up any longer, Kobe finally announced his retirement Sunday via The Player’s Tribune.

Bryant will wait until the end of this season, ya know, after his two-year, $48.5 million contract finally ends. But just like Bryant’s career, this announcement is long past its prime.

I’ll give Kobe credit. His announcement is touching. I mean who knew the Black Mamba was a poet? 

[The Player’s Tribune]

I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

I’m not going to mock 24 for sharing an actual sliver of his soul. But the list of reasons Kobe should retire is just as long as the number of ways he’s screwed over the Lakers and put them in the position they’re in, which is a current 2-14 record following their worst season in franchise history and on the verge of missing the playoffs for the third straight year, another first in the Lakers’ storied history.

So how did the Lakers get to this point and just how bad has Kobe been?

Subtracting all drama from previous years, this mudslide all started in 2013, when Kobe chased Dwight Howard out of town and decided to take that monumental contract, not leaving enough cap space for the Lakers to pursue a solid roster to surround him with.

It was that season when non-Lakers loyalists saw this downfall coming. How could a 35-year-old Bryant coming off another surgery compete when his only other “weapon” was a 39-year-old Steve Nash and under-utilized Pau Gasol?

In fact, just look at Kobe’s injury history, not counting his most recent shoulder surgery.

The dude is a walking mummy. Which is why his season has been all-time bad.

Here’s where Kobe currently ranks in each major category for only qualified players:

Field Goal % – 118th (.305)

3-point % – 106th (.202) dead last*

Assist to turnover ratio – 63rd (1.63) 63 out of 80 players*

Still need to see how bad Kobe has been with your own eyes? This video encapsulates the norm for the Lakers guard this season.

Kobe ranks 3rd all-time in points (14th in 3-point FG and 15th in steals) but will be remembered as the guard who most-closely resembled Michael Jordan but was nowhere near the natural leader (leaning on Shaq for three of his championships and couldn’t get along with Dwight Howard), a guy who was incredibly intelligent but rude and callous, and as a player who drove his team into the ground when the post Phil Jackson/Jerry Buss franchise needed him most. 

Jordan left the Bulls while on top. Russell and Duncan did everything they could to surround themselves with the best talent that would gel with their team, even into the twilight of their careers. Bryant falls into the Wilt Chamberlain category — an amazing player obsessed with stats and an ego too large to bring a team together long enough to drive a long-term dynasty. 

Josh Helmuth is the editor of CraveOnline Sports.

Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./The Players’ Tribune