No one plays the game forever

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, December 2, 2015

As fans we marvel at the star athletes who turn the impossible into the possible.

We talk about athletes at the barbershops, store, etc. “Hey, did ya see that game last night?” Did ya see that game winning shot?” You know how it goes.

As we get older we debate over athletes like our lives depended on it.

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Every fan has a favorite athlete. Every young kid who plays a sport emulates a professional who captures his or her imagination. To them, that athlete is magical and always comes through when the stakes are high.

There are three athletes that have left me in awe. Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter and Kobe Bryant.

The kid in me wishes time stood still. That these men could play the game they love forever; that I could watch them forever. But sooner or later they have to hang it up. Every athlete does. Jordan retired from basketball in 2003. Jeter from baseball in 2014. Now, after the 2015-16 NBA season, Kobe Bryant will retire.

To announce his retirement Bryant penned a letter on the The Player’s Tribune titled “Dear Basketball.” In the letter ,Bryant personified basketball and his love for the game. In a couple lines from the letter Bryant wrote, “You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream. And I’ll always love you for it. But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer. This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding.
My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”

These lines written are a realization that all athletes will have to face one day. Father Time is undefeated. Like all of his many fans, I’m sadden by the news of his retirement, but I’m glad he has come to terms with his decision.

I don’t want to see Kobe pushed out of the game. He’s meant too much to it. The resume speaks for itself: five NBA championships, two Finals MVPs, 17-time all-star selection, one league MVP, two time gold medalist and the list goes on and on.

This year is his 20th year with the Los Angeles Lakers, the most time any player has spent with one franchise in NBA history. Bryant is a first ballot hall of famer and will go down in history as one of the best players to ever play the game.

But lack of for better words, it’s weird. One day Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will have to retire. Can you imagine the NFL without them?

I’m a Tiger Woods guy, and I don’t want to believe it’s it for him.

But their time is winding down. The next generation will take the reins.

I guess it’s no different than when Muhammad Ali had to put up the gloves or when Joe Montana threw his last pass.These star athletes are a part of our childhood in a way.

We dream because we saw them. We saw “The Greatest” regain his championship belt with a knockout. We saw “The Catch” for the NFC title. We saw the tongue come out before the slam dunk. We saw the putt to win the Masters. We saw the impossible flip play at home.

These players give it their all. I’m not sure if they know the impact they make on the younger generations.

No one plays forever. But when you become legendary, you are forever. For all these athletes who made us kids dare to dream, thank you. Respect.