Kobe Bryant Explains His Decision to Retire

In an exclusive interview with "GMA" co-anchor Robin Roberts, the NBA superstar reveals why now is the right time for him to retire from the game.
5:42 | 12/02/15

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Transcript for Kobe Bryant Explains His Decision to Retire
exclusive interview with number 24, kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players of all time calling it quits at the end of the season ending an incredible 20-year career with the L.A. Lakers. I went one-on-one with kobe about his big decision. Kobe Bryant. Reporter: It is the end of an era. Whoa. Reporter: Records shattered. Respect earned. And now after 20 years and 5 NBA championships, kobe Bryant will say good-bye to his first love, basketball. Everybody wants to know why now? It's the right time. There's no point in really belaboring it or dragging it out or saying, well, leave the door open in case I don't know something may change. I don't think this is something, a decision you can allow have to outside influences to dictate whether or not you continue to play. It must come from you. So once I knew this was it, might as well say it. How did you know this was it? I try to have at least 15 minutes of still time and just kind of sit in my thoughts in the morning and meditate. Normally what happens with me my mind would always drift to the game, always. And then I found myself sitting there my mind wouldn't drift to the game all the time anymore and that's when I realized it's getting close. Not just 20 years but 20 years with the same team, the L.A. Lakers. How important is that to you? Extremely. It means everything to me. I was such a huge laker fan growing up. A die-hard laker fan, magic posters, magic t-shirts and was my dream and to be here for 20 years and get to know some of my mentors it's been a dream come true. The fans, the letter that you wrote, you wanted to speak to your fans first. Why? Well, because I think it was important for them to know how much they meant to me. The letter still doesn't do it justice and how important they've been. How vital they've been in my career and I mean we grew up together and that's such a beautiful thing. Was it a slow process to get here or was it just one of those light switch went off and you said no. It's a whole process and something that evolved over the last three years with the Achilles injury that really frightened me because my career could be over now. It scared me. What am I going to do next, trained hard and came back the next season and fractured my knee and trained harder and tore my shoulder and then it was juice like, oh -- this is one thing after the next so it was kind of a slow she-year process of kind of evolving to get where I am. The 17-time all-star calls himself his biggest critic and admits this season is far from his best. Do you feel you're being treatly fairly this season being your last and all that you have done for the sport? Yeah, I mean I wouldn't have it any other way. You can't just sit around and expect everyone to give praise all the time. You got to be able to take the good with the bad. One of the most important things I can share with the younger generation is to accept it all. Don't have any expectations or lean on or rely on positive reporting on your career or negative. Have you accomplished everything that you've wanted to on the court? No. No. I wanted eight championships as a dreamy kid growing up, I wanted eight. Why eight? Because magic had five and Michael had six and, okay, I'll win eight and had an opportunity to have seven and didn't work out. You have talked about wanting to have your place in the history of this game. Top five players of all time. Who would those five players be and would you crack the starting five. No, I would never put myself in the starting five ever. I put the people that I learned the most from being Jordan, magic, bird, hakeem olajuwon and jerry rice. When you see that hashtag go by your name. It's fantastic to be mentioned in the same breath as those players honestly to me, that's everything. We'll sit and debate endlessly who would win on a one-on-one matchup between me and M.J. Who would win. He would win some and I will win some. That will go on forever. Reporter: Although he said his good-byes, I had to ask. Are you really ready to let her go? I am. I am. I am but I'm carrying this with me no matter what. Intern internalally my love, my passion everything I learned from it will be with me. He's at peace. His thinking is so clear on all those issues. He talks about the fact that he grew up for a time in Italy. His dad played pro ball. He speaks fluent Italian. He has other interests and tomorrow we'll get into what is his next. What he's going to do next but it's hard. Can you imagine if you're told something that you love, that you've thought about since you were yea high and told you can't do that anymore but that's what -- Excited about what's ahead. He is and we will discuss that and, of course, I had to ask him Michael Jordan or -- Yeah. He could be a politician. No correct answer. But he really appreciates -- he's getting dumped on a lot by the press. He's having a horrible season. The word that he used, crap, that's how he describes how he's playing right now. They played in Philadelphia's hometown, the Sixers won it -- won their first game of the season. Kobe had 20 but you could just tell that he's ready to move on. At peace is the perfect way to say it. You're going to see what happens when we play a little word association game with kobe Bryant. Go to goodmorningamerica.com on Yahoo and you can see that. Part two tomorrow.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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