'Thank you' - NBA pens farewell letter to Kobe Bryant
After 20 years of blood, sweat and five championship rings, the NBA said thanks to Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.
Bryant's illustrious career came to a stylish end on Wednesday, with the 37-year-old posting a remarkable 60 points in the Lakers' 101-96 comeback win over the Utah Jazz.
Having struggled on his farewell tour, the 2008 NBA MVP, who announced his retirement in November last year, turned back the clock as he had 50 shots at the Staples Center, the most in a game since Michael Jordan (49) in 1993.
And as Bryant prepares for life off the court, the NBA penned a letter to the 18-time All-Star, which read: "Dear Kobe, Thank you.
"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. Sincerely, NBA."