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Kobe Bryant Will Retire After This Season

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Kobe Bryant in 1999. (Photo via Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant officially announced on Sunday that he will retire after the 2015-2016 season.Bryant, who played the entirety of his 20-year-career with the Lakers, and led the team to five NBA Championships, posted a poetic statement titled "Dear Basketball," a love letter declaring his retirement, over at The Players Tribune, which you can read in its entirety here. Good luck accessing the website now; massive traffic following the announcement crashed the site earlier Sunday evening.

The letter is certainly one of the more unconventional ways a retirement announcement has been made, and it's super dramatic (fittingly, just like Kobe). It opens:

Dear Basketball, From the moment
I started rolling my dad's tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

This part's cool, too:
As a six-year-old boy Deeply in love with you I never saw the end of the tunnel. I only saw myself Running out of one.
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Anyway, if you've been following the NBA this season, the decision doesn't come as a surprise, as ESPN reports; Bryant has not-so-subtly hinted that a postseason retirement was likely.

Love him or hate him, it's pretty much undisputed that Bryant is/ was one of the greatest players of all time, right up there (or beyond) Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Just look at his career stats. They're ridiculous.

Want to see Kobe being Kobe? Let's go.

I love a good dunk montage. Here's a collection of dunks devoted exclusively to when Kobe had an Afro:

Lest we forget Kobe's rap career:

Here's Matt Barnes trying, and failing, to trick an unflinching Kobe:

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Let's close it out with this photo of Kobe and a couple of fans.