Kobe Bryant announced his retirement, assuring that the remainder of another futile Lakers season will be at least a farewell tour for the senior superstar. Bryant’s announcement puts an end — for the moment — to the daily cries that he should hang up his Nikes before ignominy overtakes glory as Bryant’s defining memory. (Bryant has struggled this season, sometimes looking like a poor caricature of himself.)
In the early announcement, Bryant follows a tradition of taking a victory lap in a final go-round. Other surefire Hall-of-Famers and former MVPs have recently vanished with little fanfare — Ray Allen and Steve Nash were playing, then they weren’t. Bryant’s approach to saying goodbye will be more akin to Julius Erving‘s swan song. The great Doctor J spent the entire 1986-87 season being feted by fans in visiting arenas, soaking up gifts and applause and adulation. (Sports Illustrated called it the Doc Across America Tour.) Bryant deserves — and will get — the same treatment. In Los Angeles, the equally senior star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar presented the Doctor with a rocking chair. When Kareem retired a few years later, he got a rocker too — and a Rolls-Royce — from the Lakers. You can bet Kobe Bryant’s rocking chair will be the best-looking rocking chair of all time.