Dear Kobe Bryant

By Johnathan Tillman / @thetillshow

You have a very unique place within the threads of basketball history. Fairly or unfairly, you’ve hooped in the shadow of the best basketball player ever. Not only did you not wither, but you thrived. Countless names have had similar physical dimensions to you, yet you’ve shown that no one since His Airness has the mental fortitude you possess. Something is different about you, and something different stirs within you when it’s game day.

It is my dream to love something and someone as much as you love basketball. You deserve the farewell tour this season has become.

Your successes and accomplishments, however, do not absolve you. At this moment, you are not a quality NBA player. You are impeding the development of young guards who are already better than the current manifestation of you. And it is entirely your fault. Your basketball IQ is such that you can change your game to improve the overall product of the team. As a lover of basketball, I do not watch bad things. At this moment, you are a bad thing. You are a bad thing that will not improve, for both physical and egotistical reasons.

You are right. You need to let go. Allow these young guards to learn and grow the same way Byron Scott allowed you to grow. Yes, they will make mistakes. No, they do not see the game in a sublime way like you do. But you have the pleasure of being a sensei to young people who would willingly listen to you. Even someone as goofy and aloof as Nicholas Young would soak up the wisdom your oracle-esque mind has.

Twenty years. For two decades, you were exemplary. You were one of the beacons of an era that is now putting out a light one at a time. You do not have to go out on your shield. Do not ride into the sunset with a sore shoulder and an empty clip. Missed long jumpers do not need to clang off the rim with your beads of sweat falling like shell casings at your feet for us to admire who you are as hero — or at least, antihero. Yes, you already will leave something behind. But please, do not let your ego continue to make you a terrible basketball player as you play your last few dozens of games.

Thank you for everything, Kobe Bryant.

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