Kobe Bryant didn’t call a press conference to announce to the world that he is going to retire at the end of this season. He didn’t need to. He used the most powerful platform that any athlete could use – social media!
Kobe has 20 million likes on Facebook, and 8 million followers on Twitter. These are impressive numbers, numbers that he used for the announcement of his retirement. The Players Tribune website crashed and was down for most of the day after Kobe’s retirement letter was published. That’s how powerful Kobe Bryant is.
He published his retirement letter on their website, and shared it through his official social accounts.
Dear Basketball: playerstribu.ne/dearbball #KB20
Geplaatst door Kobe Bryant op Zondag 29 november 2015
Why did The Players Tribune website crash? Some say it was because of the enormous traffic (over 1,5 Mil visits) it encountered right after the letter was published. The others say that the media’s third-party CDN’s (content-delivery networks) did a poor job managing the load the website experienced at the time. It doesn’t even matter, The Players Tribune won either way because they were the only news media who had the privilege to publish this letter.
It’s also interesting to see that it recieved more clicks from Twitter than from Facebook.
These numbers showed clubs should insist on their players to have official social media accounts and use them actively. They can extend the club’s reach on the internet. It would be great to see how many people liked or visited the Lakers social media channels after they seen this status. I believe it was huge!
This move was genius, just as many other in playing career were. He showed his fans emotions and his pure love for basketball. He also shocked fans (even haters) with this decision because, even though Kobe is not in his prime anymore, he left a big mark in the NBA. It will be an end of an era of some sort.
Lakers reacted without merchandise
It was also great to see a reaction from the Lakers. They printed out Kobe’s letter for all fans who attended the first home game after this announcement.
But I am kind of surprised they didn’t prepare any special products in their fan shop for this occassion. It is strange, because, here in Europe, clubs are very quick in this type of situations.
If you are looking for a Kobe retirement souvenir, don’t lose hope. Kobe is selling shirts on his own website (power of athlete branding at it’s best). Sean Callanan from SportsGeek raised an interesting question in his article: “How many T-shirts would have been sold if the Dear Basketball letter included a link” of his webshop?
Many fans probably searched this product on the LA Lakers website, and I was one of these people.
Another answer to this puzzle might be: there is an agreement between Kobe and the Lakers that merchandise will be sold on Kobe’s personal website only.
Other athletes showed support on their social accounts, and this big basketball story became the number one sports story in the world.
Siempre es triste escuchar que un deportista se va a retirar. Pero Kobe Bryant quedará en la historia como uno de los más grandes y quien hizo con su magia que me interesara este deporte. Toda la suerte del mundo en tu nueva etapa Kobe.// It’s always sad to hear when a sportsman is retiring. But @kobebryant will always be in the history books as one of the greatest. It was he who helped me become interested in basketball. All the best in the next stage of your life, Kobe.
Here you can see the whole story from Twitter in one interactive map.
A news media website was down for a day because of Kobe’s retirement letter. As we are writing this, his post on Facebook has over 260K likes and 66K shares. His tweet has over 115K likes and 130K retweets. Letters that were handed out during the Lakers game are being sold on ebay. Retirement merchandise is being sold on his official website. Do you need more proof of size and power of Kobe Bryant? Do you need more proof of the power of social media?
He has a great team behind him, and there was a lot of things that they’ve prepared. The letter was emotional and it reached the heart of every fan and hater. Products were prepared in advance. The letter was released through social because it is the perfect medium. This was planned for some time now obviously. And it was planned to the very last detail. As it should. Because Kobe deserves nothing less.
PHOTO: screenshot The Players Tribune