Potential Hall of Famers: a look at the retirement of four NBA titans
By Zhang Ruijun

2016-12-30 18:41 GMT+8

During the NBA 2015-2016 season, four NBA titans retired from the court. Each of them spent almost two decades displaying their skills for the world to see. 
Tim Duncan earned the mantle of “The Big Fundamental”  due to his solid skillset. Kobe Bryant, the “Black Mamba”, shoots and dunks as fast as his dangerous namesake. Ray Allen, with the nickname “Jesus,” can save his teammates from any adversity. Kevin Garnett, known as “Big Ticket,” appeals to the audience with his passion and performance on the court. 
Tim Duncan / ESPN Photo 
Tim Duncan --- “The Big Fundamental” 
San Antonio Spurs player Tim Duncan announced his retirement after nineteen years on July 12. In a pure Duncan-esque way, the announcement came with no glitz and glamour, just a press release from the San Antonio Spurs press office. Later, in a letter to his fans all over the world, Duncan expressed his love to everyone, simply but authentically. 
"If asked to write a script for my career 19 years ago, there is no way I would’ve been able to dream up this journey. I stand here at the end of this ride and look back in awe of what I’ve experienced. The wins and losses will be remembered, but what I’ll remember most are the people: 
The fans inside the arena and out, the staff and coaches who pushed me and held me together, the teammates (and even opponents) who will be lifelong friends, sharing my ups and downs with family and close friends, and, most importantly, the snapshots of my kids growing up and reveling in watching Dad work. That is what I will cherish the most. 
(Extracted from a goodbye letter to fans by Tim Duncan) 
Kobe Bryant /ESPN Photo 
Kobe Bryant--- “Black Mamba” 
After twenty years of sweat, blood, and tears, Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant eventually said goodbye to his beloved career. On April 13, 2016, Bryant played his final game against the Utah Jazz ending with a 101–96 victory, scoring a season-high 60 points (the most points scored by a player that season). In his poem, "Dear Basketball," Bryant conveyed his enthusiasm and ecstasy to basketball between stanzas. 
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.   
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 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,
Ray Allen / ESPN Photo 
Ray Allen--- “Jesus” 
As the peer of Kobe Bryant, three-point shooter Ray Allen played on several teams, such as the Seattle SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat. The three point record holder retired as a veteran at the age 41 on November 1. In his letter, Ray revealed why he could be a “Jesus” to save his team and teammates at key moments. 
Sometimes you’ll be afraid. 
Sometimes you’ll think you’re out of your league. 
But you’ll keep showing up every day, putting in the work. 
You’ll put up more than 26,000 shots in your career. Almost six out of 10 won’t even go in. I told you this game was a sonofabitch. 
Don’t worry, though. A successful man is built of 1,000 failures. Or in your case, 14,000 misses. 
You’ll win a championship in Boston. 
You’ll win another in Miami. 
The personalities on those two teams will be different, but both teams will have the same thing in common: habits. 
Boring old habits. 
I know you want me to let you in on some big secret to success in the NBA. 
The secret is there is no secret. 
It’s just boring old habits. 
(Extracted from Letter to My Younger Self by Ray Allen) 
Kevin Garnett / ESPN Photo 
Kevin Garnett---“Big Ticket” 
Drafted in 1995,  Kevin Garnett was undoubtedly a fighter who dedicated 21 seasons in the NBA, leaving a legacy as one of the best defensive players in league with his intensity. 
Unlike the three mentioned before, Garnett posted a farewell video on Sept 23 to bid farewell to basketball, four days before the Minnesota Timberwolves were set to open training camp. In a black-and–white video, KG narrated his feelings towards basketball and love. 
"I'm just thankful. I can't even put that into words,'' Garnett says. "I'm just thankful. I'm just thankful for everybody and the love. I never would have thought that people love me like this. But, for it to be reality is just something else, man. Man.'' 
“The old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” The four veterans proved themselves with their success, sweat and “stubbornness”.