Time- Dear Retirement from Basketball,
(for Kobe Bryant)
You don’t suck, retirement. I thought
You would. With no crowds to cheer.
No competitors to pump addicting adrenalin every day.
No satisfying sound of the ball swooshing through the net
Like a melon through silk.
No frown of frustration on your opponents’ faces.
No salty smell of victory as exhausted bodies
rush to the locker room.
I was wrong.
You gave me other gifts I wasn’t expecting. That final year
when each city I visited showered me with glory and gifts
and pure love. The fans cheered, stomped feet, battered hands,
not because I was scoring points in one last game,
but because they wished me well on whatever I did next.
They wanted to say thanks for the memories:
the games where the father waved the foam finger with his giggling young son,
the games where the family talked about thrilling plays on the car ride home,
the games where kids saw players make moves that seemed physically impossible,
that they would try to duplicate the next day on the playground.
The humility I felt that year made me strive to be worthy of their appreciation.
If no longer as a player, then as a man.
You were generous, retirement. You let me discover who I was
without a ball in my hand and a number on my back.
I found a man with many other passions.
As a player, I had dabbled in writing like a would-be singer
who only sings in the shower. But you gave me
precious time to find my more mature voice,
and the courage to share my words with the world.
Even when they didn’t cheer.
Most important, you let me relearn
the glorious joys of basketball as a fan. In the stands
or on the couch, I am a cheering enthusiast,
rooting my team to victory.
You returned me to my childhood awe of just watching and loving the game.
You also let me appreciate the magnificent young athletes who replaced me.
Knowing I wouldn’t have to face them on the court,
I didn’t have to worry about strategies,
I could just marvel.
Like I marveled at Kobe Bryant.
Lord, that man could soar, could score, could leap from shore to shore.
He brought poetry back to the game
and to the hearts of the fans.
The poetry of form and function, motion and mindfulness.
He saw the court the way a sculptor looks at a block of marble
and imagines the great art waiting to be revealed.
And he revealed it game after game.
Retirement, embrace him like you did me. Teach him
all that you taught me about finding who I was off the court.
My place in the community.
Most of all, help him realize that there is no such thing as retirement,
merely passing from one room into another.
A bold adventure in self-discovery
where he may find a new Kobe
who may surprise and delight him all over again.
No. No, no, no, HELL NO! This is not becoming a thing. I happen to like basketball, and I understand there a lot of people that don't, but even those people can admit that antics that happen off the court are nothing but pure entertainment. Hell, free agency, in and of itself, is like the world's best soap opera. It's all extremely riveting stuff, even when the ball isn't in play. You know what what's not riveting? Poems.
I let it slide with Kobe, because even though poems are somehow obnoxious and boring all at the same time, it was still nice to reminded how they are structured. It's like watching a black and white movie every once in a awhile just to prove to yourself that you are cultured enough to sit through the whole thing. Well, I got my literary fix of poems for at least the next five years, and the last thing I need is to be coerced into reading more of them. In a way, this is so NBA. They already made a mockery of clothing, and now they are going to ruin composition. This is a dangerous path to go down. You just know that Swaggy P is already constructing a sonnet to his shoe collection. I know it appears as though Byron Scott has been doing a terrible job coaching the Lakers, and he has, but it's because he is too busy mentally putting together lines for his ode to unemployment. You know LeBron James is PISSED he didn't think of this first. A haiku for headbands would have been the perfect publicity stunt for someone that has become completely overshadowed by Steph Curry this season*. Even Kobe rolled his eyes and took a deep, audible breathe. You think he wants to take time away from his retirement tour to READ?! Fucking READ! He's got to stay in that yoga studio for like 12 hours a day just so his body doesn't completely shutdown over the course of the next 60-some games. There's no time for quirky little letters to his future. He was supposed to have the last word Kareem, so get your lanky, accomplished ass out of here before you cause the entire NBA to switch their hobby of choice from fashion to poetry.
*Pretty crazy how little we have heard about LeBron this year. It's gotta be killing that attention hungry, mental midget that the whole world is obsessed with Steph Curry.