Los Angeles - The NBA fraternity reacted quickly to Kobe Bryant's announcement on Sunday that he would retire at the end of the season, with some calling
it "sad" while other spoke of his incredible legacy.
Bryant, 37, one of the greatest US basketball players ever, will
retire after spending his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles
NBA commissioner Adam Silver was one of the first to respond to Bryant's announcement.
"With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP (2008), five NBA
championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless
work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of
our game," Silver said.
"Whether competing in the NBA finals or hoisting jump shots after
midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game. I
join Kobe's millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on
an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories."
Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott spoke to reporters about
Bryant's decision before Sunday's 107-103 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
"I thought he at least had another year in him," Scott said. "It kind
of shocked me when he told me. Sad more than anything. Somebody I care
about, have a lot of respect for, it's always hard when greatness like
Kobe decides to hang it up."
It's a unique situation for a Lakers team that lost iconic center
Shaquille O'Neal to a departure for Miami, and past legend Magic Johnson
to his announcement that he had the HIV virus.
"We're all sad," Lakers president Jeanie Buss said. "This era of
Lakers basketball has been one of the most fun, exciting prosperous eras
we could imagine."
Johnson told Yahoo Sports that the five-time NBA champion Bryant leaves a lasting legacy.
"He's the closest thing we've seen to Michael Jordan," Johnson said.
"He'll probably go down as the second-greatest scoring guard. You
couldn't stop him. His will to win was incredible and he stayed in the
gym like no other."
Indiana star forward Paul George said the 37-year-old Bryant will always be an inspiration to him.
"He's still my idol regardless of him aging and his game changing," George said.
Shane Battier, who won two NBA titles with the Miami Heat and is now retired, paid Bryant the highest compliment.
"Kobe is the greatest competitor I have ever faced," Battier said. "I am
glad he found peace, I don't know if we will see another like him.
Enjoy the last 66."