Kobe Bryant: Champion, MVP and Social Sensation Hangs It Up

“This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding, click my mind can handle the grind, but my body knows it’s time to say goodbye”

Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in poetic fashion on The Players’ Tribune on Sunday night.

First, a major shout out to The Players’ Tribune for recognizing fans’ desire for unfiltered content that goes beyond 40 characters.  In just over a year, The Players’ Tribune has become the go-to source for a first hand perspective straight from athletes, and props to TPT for taking that idea across all sports from NASCAR to the NCAA, expanding to video and incorporating big sponsors.  While the ESPNs of the world shut down innovation in content (pardon my residual Grantland saltiness), sites like The Players’ Tribune and Bleacher Report are thriving by creating the type of new content fans so clearly crave.  But I digress…

It’s fitting that Kobe would announce the end of his historic career on the TPT platform which launched weeks after its founder, Derek Jeter, ended his career with symbolic poetry, connecting on a walk off hit in his final home game at Yankee Stadium.  Since we’re 4 days removed from Kobe’s announcement, there are a million sites where you can find Kobe career retrospectives and season by season stats, so I’ll try to follow The Players’ Tribune’s lead and provide you with some lesser known, generally trivial, but hopefully more entertaining Kobe facts to drop at the water cooler during his farewell tour.

Kobe entered the league as part of what might have been the best rookie class of all time.  A number of NBA stars were taken ahead of him including Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, STEPHON MARBURY, Ray Allen and Antoine Walker in addition to your typical draft busts like Vitaly Potapenko.  If Bears fans are still crying about passing on Chandler Jones for Shea McClellin, imagine Cavs fans looking back at Cleveland picking Vitaly Potapenko over Kobe.

In addition to the Black Mamba, Kobe is rumored to go by other nicknames like KB24 and Vino.  If you have ever referred to Kobe by these names, please announce yourself in the comments.

Kobe does have a line of shoes with Nike, but they have never become as iconic as Jordans, or as popular as Lebrons or KDs.  They’re pretty ugly, but they have always sold well in China.

Kobe’s consistent yet earned self indulgence would lead you to believe he suffers from only child syndrome, but in fact Kobe grew up with two older sisters – Shayna and Sharia.

Kobe took Brandy to his senior prom at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania.  He returned the favor by later playing a basketball star on her UPN show Moesha that really needs to go on Netflix.  Mo to the, E to the….

@kobebryant joined Twitter in January 2013, a full 3 years after everyone else, and immediately took it by storm.  Since Kobe never does anything half speed, his first tweet (below) set the tone for years of commentary on officiating, rehab, Pau Gasol’s defense, Dwight Howard’s leadership, anonymous sports reporting, women’s soccer and much more, and the Twittersphere is better for it.

With the exception of being the youngest player to score 30,000 points, the youngest winner of the Slam Dunk Contest when it was good, the youngest starting All Star, five time NBA champion, NBA MVP, Olympic gold medalist and general legend of the game, as Kobe tells Starbury, he’s really just a normal guy.  A normal, polarizing, hard working, immensely talented, outspoken, game changing guy whose presence will certainly be missed on the court next season.

And yes, he shops.

About the author: Jamie Litoff. NBA Correspondent. Jamie is an Evanston native and devoted Bulls, Bears, Cubs and Michigan Wolverines fan. A Big Ten girl through and through, Jamie graduated from Michigan before finishing her Masters degree in Sports Administration at Northwestern last year. Passionate about the intersection of sports and technology, Jamie works in digital media and sponsorship at Intersport in Chicago. In her free time, you can find her repping the 300 level of the UC at Bulls games, eating wings at the Birds Nest, laying on a North Side beach or listening to podcasts. Follow her @jamielitoff on Twitter and Instagram.

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