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Kobe Bryant and the Lakers pay tribute to Kevin Garnett's retirement

The purple and gold say farewell to an old foe.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Kobe Bryant is retired. Tim Duncan walked away as well. That already would have been enough for the NBA to feel like they were saying goodbye to a generation this summer, and now Kevin Garnett has also decided to accept a buyout from the Minnesota Timberwolves to end his 21-year career.

Those three players will make for one of the best Hall of Fame classes in league history in five years because all of them made an incredible impact on the game of basketball.

Tim Duncan’s two decades of casual dominance change the way we think about a player’s longevity, and Bryant’s peak featured some of the most incredible scoring the NBA has ever seen. Garnett may be less appreciated by a lot of fans, but he was no less impactful.

The Big Ticket changed the way we believed big men could defend, his endless arms seeming to swallow the whole court and effect every shot during his prime. Garnett was also one of the most driven, single-minded, and frankly a little crazy competitors the NBA has ever seen, a quality that was surely respected by the equally ruthless Bryant.

With that in mind, Bryant’s tweet congratulating Garnett on his career was a fitting tribute:

The rest of the Lakers’ current group of young players may not have gotten many opportunities to compete against Garnett, but they still took the time to show the legend some love on social media:

Garnett will probably always be a little hated by Lakers fans for beating them in the Finals in 2008, but the man was a legend and pioneer for the game, so it’s cool to see him being appreciated by his colleagues, as well as players he inspired to believe "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!"

You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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