*Cue the old man music*

In my day, the best sports athletes of our time sat in front of a camera with their family by their side when they announced that they were retiring.

In 1993, Michael Jordan retired for the first time. Journalists surrounded him while they asked questions:

What if Jordan had played during “our” age? The digital age. Right now, Jordan’s brand Jumpman has 2.5 million followers on Twitter, but he doesn’t interact with his fans or share a lot of personal updates. On the other hand, Kobe Bryant has 7.92 million followers and interacts with other players and fans often. Today, Bryant skipped the hoopla (so far) of doing the press conference and announced his intentions to retire from the NBA after this season…via Twitter.

Dear Basketball: https://t.co/KDecft6BO2#KB20

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) November 29, 2015

The site he linked to with his message, which is baseball greats Derek Jeter’s, crashed under the pressure from all of the clicks. When the site launched, Jeter said his goal was to remove filters between athletes and fans. It’s working.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 4.14.36 PM

The tweet itself currently has 33,796 retweets and 22,828 likes. How would that translate into viewers who would have tuned into say, ESPN, to watch it. While Bryant’s retirement from the Lakers after twenty years wasn’t a shock, the timing and the way he chose to share the news was most certainly a surprise.

If that kind of worldwide reach wasn’t enough (the tweet will be shown on television), Bryant followed it up (a minute later, timestamps show) with a simple post on Facebook, where he has 20,406,055 “likes,” which is also picking up steam.

It’s further proof that we’ve entered a time in our lives where we want to be closer to the action. A part of the entertainment that we watch on TV. In no other time in the world have we become closer to the people we admire and other like-minded folks who admire the same people as you. In a way, Kobe’s retirement news coming via Twitter speaks volumes about what fans expect from athletes who make millions of dollars every year. Sometimes, Twitter gets players into trouble, since they’re often tweeting with no filter or PR person at the helm. Or at least it comes off that way.

The NBA even posted their statement on Twitter:

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement regarding @kobebryant’s announcement today pic.twitter.com/fenWAw4qSH

— NBA (@NBA) November 30, 2015

Twitter’s place in history has long been cemented, this is just another reminder that this ain’t your grandpa’s our world anymore. Will Steph Curry retire over a live streamed VR experience where it feels like we’re in the gym with him? Hold onto your hats.

In case you can’t read Kobe’s letter, here it is:

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.

A love so deep I gave you my all —

From my mind & body

To my spirit & soul.

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.

And so I ran.

I ran up and down every court

After every loose ball for you.

You asked for my hustle

I gave you my heart

Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt

Not because challenge called me

But because YOU called me.

I did everything for YOU

Because that’s what you do

When someone makes you feel as

Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream

And I’ll always love you for it.

But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.

This season is all I have left to give.

My heart can take the pounding

My mind can handle the grind

But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.

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.

And we both know, no matter what I do next

I’ll always be that kid

With the rolled up socks

Garbage can in the corner

:05 seconds on the clock

Ball in my hands.

5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,


Featured Image: evergreenkamal/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE

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