This is a picture of Kobe Bryant in a Lakers uniform. Beside him is the question: When did Kobe retire?

When Did Kobe Retire? After 20 Years as a Laker!

Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. In addition to five NBA Championships, he won nearly every individual award a player could. 

I watched the entirety of Kobe’s career and, even though I mostly rooted against him as a Celtics fan, I was sad to see such an incredible career end. 

When did Kobe retire? Kobe went quickly from being one of the very best players in the league in 2012-2013 to retirement just a few seasons later. 

Injuries he suffered over the next two seasons were the main factors in addition to age. As they say, father time is undefeated! 

Kobe Bryant retired on April 13, 2016 after announcing his impending retirement with a poem in the Players’ Tribune on November 29th, 2015. Kobe was 37 years old at the time of his retirement. 

Why did Kobe retire? 

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Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players to ever live. He played twenty years for the Los Angeles Lakers – the all-time record for a player playing for a single team. 

Kobe joined the NBA directly out of high school, so it took him a few seasons to develop into the dominant force you probably remember him as. 

But by his fourth year in the league, Kobe was into his prime. And what a prime it was! Over the next fourteen seasons, Kobe earned the following honors:

But, like many great athletes, Kobe went from the top of his game to not being himself anymore fairly quickly. 

In the 2012-2013 season, Kobe was voted 1st Team All-NBA. He may not have been at his absolute peak at that point, but he was still one of the very best basketball players in the world. 

The following season he played only six games due to various injuries including an injured knee. It was the beginning of the end for Bryant. 

The next season,  2014-2105, he played reasonably well when available, but that was not very often. During the first part of the season he missed time with achy knees and other lingering injuries. Then, in late January 2015, Kobe suffered a rotator cuff tear that ended his season. 

Having missed the better part of two seasons, there were real questions about whether Kobe Bryant was done. 

When did Kobe retire? 

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Fifteen games into the 2015-2016 Kobe answered the questions about his career. On November 29, 2015 Kobe announced that the then-present season would be his last in the NBA. 

Kobe announced his retirement with a poem titled Dear Basketball published in the Players’ Tribune. The poem read in part: 

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —

From my mind & body

To my spirit & soul.

It was clear to NBA observers, including this one, that Kobe was not the player he once had been. At the time of his announcement Kobe was shooting a woeful 31.5% from the field.

While Kobe was never a truly great shooter, he used his insane athleticism to get himself decent shots. 

The injuries suffered over the previous two seasons robbed Kobe of his athleticism to the extent that he could no longer get very good looks at the basket. He ended up playing 66 games in that final season and finished with a career low .358 shooting percentage. 

At his retirement press conference Kobe acknowledged that he was no longer the same player saying, “”Even though I play like (crap), I’ve worked really, really hard not to play like crap and I do everything I possibly can. And I feel good about that”. 

After his announcement, Kobe asked that opposing teams not have special ceremonies for him. Most teams obliged but many still put together tribute videos and other presentations for Bryant. 

The love he got around the NBA surprised Kobe – he was used to being respected but hated by other team’s fans. Despite not being the player he had been, Kobe was the leading vote-getter for the All-Star game. 

Kobe Bryant’s last game in the NBA was special. On April 13th, 2016, he scored 60 points in a 5 point Laker victory over the Utah Jazz. Kobe took 50 field goal attempts, but he did shoot better than he did for the season at .44%.

He became the oldest player in NBA history to score 60 points in a game and went out in style. 

He was 37 years old when he retired on April 13th 2016. 

How long was Kobe retired when he died? 

Tragically, Kobe Bryant died on January 26, 2020 at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash. Since he had retired in April of 2016, Kobe lived for a little more than 3.5 years after he retired. 

In addition to Kobe, his daughter Gianna and the pilot, there were six family friends aboard the helicopter that had taken off from John Wayne Airport. 

They were traveling to a basketball game for his daughter in another county when the helicopter crashed. All aboard were killed. 

Summary: When Did Kobe Retire? 

Kobe Bryant officially retired after his last NBA game on April 13th, 2016 at the age of 37. He announced his retirement earlier in that season on November 29, 2015. Kobe scored 60 points in his final game, becoming the oldest player in NBA history to score 60 points in a game. 

Featured Image Photo Credit: “Kobe Bryant” by alexwaltasss is marked with CC0 1.0.

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