On the occasion of Kobe Bryant’s final game, the NBA offered this response to his retirement poem, first published on The Players’ Tribune.
Thank you for your passion, commitment, and dedication to basketball.
Thank you for showing us that 24 is not just the number on your jersey, but the number of hours in a day you must devote to basketball to be the best.
Thank you for giving and giving and giving.
Thank you for pushing through even when your body was screaming “no,” but your mind and your heart kept saying “yes.”
For the games that you refused to lose, and those that you always seemed destined to win.
Thank you for your endless drive.
For competing with ruthless ambition and playing with reverence and respect.
For showing us that there’s no such thing as magic but only hard work.
Thank you for making us smile, laugh, yell, cry, jump out of our seats, and chew on our jerseys.
Thank you for playing the game the way it was meant to be played.
Thank you for teaching us to believe in ourselves even if nobody else does.
For 20 years you gave our game all you had, and we are eternally grateful.
Thank you for loving basketball.