*Cue the old man music*

In my day, the best sports athletes of our time sat in front of a camera with their family by their side when they announced that they were retiring.

In 1993, Michael Jordan retired for the first time. Journalists surrounded him while they asked questions:

What if Jordan had played during “our” age? The digital age. Right now, Jordan’s brand Jumpman has 2.5 million followers on Twitter, but he doesn’t interact with his fans or share a lot of personal updates. On the other hand, Kobe Bryant has 7.92 million followers and interacts with other players and fans often. Today, Bryant skipped the hoopla (so far) of doing the press conference and announced his intentions to retire from the NBA after this season…via Twitter.

The site he linked to with his message, which is baseball greats Derek Jeter’s, crashed under the pressure from all of the clicks. When the site launched, Jeter said his goal was to remove filters between athletes and fans. It’s working.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 4.14.36 PM

The tweet itself currently has 33,796 retweets and 22,828 likes. How would that translate into viewers who would have tuned into say, ESPN, to watch it. While Bryant’s retirement from the Lakers after twenty years wasn’t a shock, the timing and the way he chose to share the news was most certainly a surprise.

If that kind of worldwide reach wasn’t enough (the tweet will be shown on television), Bryant followed it up (a minute later, timestamps show) with a simple post on Facebook, where he has 20,406,055 “likes,” which is also picking up steam.

It’s further proof that we’ve entered a time in our lives where we want to be closer to the action. A part of the entertainment that we watch on TV. In no other time in the world have we become closer to the people we admire and other like-minded folks who admire the same people as you. In a way, Kobe’s retirement news coming via Twitter speaks volumes about what fans expect from athletes who make millions of dollars every year. Sometimes, Twitter gets players into trouble, since they’re often tweeting with no filter or PR person at the helm. Or at least it comes off that way.

The NBA even posted their statement on Twitter:

Twitter’s place in history has long been cemented, this is just another reminder that this ain’t your grandpa’s our world anymore. Will Steph Curry retire over a live streamed VR experience where it feels like we’re in the gym with him? Hold onto your hats.

In case you can’t read Kobe’s letter, here it is:

Dear Basketball,

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.

As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

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.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,

Featured Image: evergreenkamal/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE

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Kobe Bryant Announces NBA Retirement Over Twitter And Facebook