Dear Basketball Poem by Kobe Bryant Summary, Notes and Line by Line Analysis in English


Kobe Bryant’s poem ‘Dear Basketball’ expresses the poet’s passion for the sport. He explains his love for basketball and how it shaped him into the guy he is today. Byrant’s column ‘Dear Basketball’ appeared in The Players Tribune. In November of 2015, he used it to announce his retirement. It was later utilized in his short animated film of the same name, released in 2017. Bryant wrote and narrated the short, which received the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Short at the 90th Academy Awards. 

About the poet

Kobe Bryant was a professional basketball player from the United States who won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, and led the Los Angeles Lakers to three straight NBA titles. Bryant was a key member of the Lakers, helping them to successive championships and gold medals. He was the first guard in NBA history to play 20 seasons when he retired following the 2015-16 season.


The theme of Time, its relentlessness, and Endings is inextricably linked to this love. Kobe recognizes the end of his epic love affair with the incarnation of basketball he created.


Stanza 1 and 2

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.

The speaker, Kobe Bryant, opens the first stanzas of ‘Dear Basketball’ by recalling his early exposure to the game and his growing love for it. He knew he’d enjoy the sport “from the moment” he started putting on his “dad’s tube socks” and shooting “imaginary / Game-winning shots.” The poem is addressed to the game right away, which is only one line long. This is referred to as an apostrophe. An apostrophe is a word arrangement that addresses someone, something, or a creature that does not exist or is not present in the immediate environment of the poetry. The intended listener is addressed as if they can hear and comprehend the speaker’s remarks, even if they aren’t living, real, or capable of doing so. 

Stanza 3 and 4

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.

Bryant continues in the next two stanzas, emphasizing his passion for the game and how he has devoted himself to playing it well, “spirit & soul.” The fourth verse illustrates a metaphor for the reader. He recalls how, as a boy, he never saw the “end of the tunnel,” or the point at which he’d quit playing. (This might also be interpreted as a reference to death.) Rather, his pursuit of the game felt like he was “Running out of” a tunnel into the light. 

Stanza 5 and 6

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.

Bryant employs repetition in the fifth and sixth stanzas of ‘Dear Basketball’ to notify the reader that he “ran.” This term represents the speaker’s pursuit of his ambitions as well as a straightforward manner of notifying the reader about how hard he worked to accomplish them. Basketball, he says, requires him to “hustle.” Instead, he devoted himself to the sport. The speaker put forth a lot of effort because he wanted to do the game properly. He wanted to express his passion for basketball since that’s “what you do / When someone makes you feel as / Alive” as basketball did for him. 

Stanza 7 and 8

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.

Bryant moves towards the poem’s conclusion in the following stanzas of “Dear Basketball.” He informs basketball that he will be unable to appreciate the game “obsessively for much longer.” “This season is all I have left to give,” he says in the end. In these words, he announces his retirement to both the sport and his fans. His body informs him that it is “time to say goodbye.” Even if his “heart” and “mind” could withstand the “pounding” and “grind”. He’s ready to let go of the sport, despite all it’s given him. 

Stanza 9

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,

Bryant ends the poem by referring to the vision of himself as a youngster that he formed in the opening verse. Despite the passage of time, “we both know,” he adds, that he’ll always “be that kid.” The poem concludes with a countdown, “:05 seconds on the clock,” and Bryant’s signature, “Love you always, / Kobe.”