At 34 years of age, Los Angeles Lakers superstar and 5-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant sees the end of his historic career being just around the corner.
In a recent interview conducted by Ken Berger of CBS Sports, Bryant revealed his desire to quite possibly finish playing basketball for good at the end of his current Lakers contract, which expires at the end of the 2013/14 season.
“It’s just that three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health. That’s a lot of years. For a guard? That’s a lot of years.”
“It’s not about health necessarily. t’s about ‘Do I want to do it? Do I have that hunger to continue to prepare at a high level?’ “
Bryant also brought up the idea of retirement in an interview with Yahoo Sports personality Graham Bensinger back in July of this year.
Over the course of his 16 year career, Kobe has compiled a list of accomplishments that rank him with the absolute best in league history.
He’s won 5 NBA Championships, won 2 NBA Finals MVPs, 1 NBA League MVP (2008), 2 Olympic Gold Medals, 10 All-NBA Teams, 9 All-NBA Defensive Teams, 2 NBA Scoring Titles and 14 All-Star appearances. That’s not even mentioning his career averages of 25.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists, as well as his 81 point game (the 2nd most in NBA history).
As fans of the sport, I’m sure we all would want to see Kobe “Bean” Bryant play another 4-5 years in the NBA.
The reality of the situation is that Kobe calling it a career after just 2 more seasons seems far more likely.
Lest we forget, Bryant has played 16 years in the league and is 34 years old. Over the past few seasons, Kobe has seen his body slowly deteriorate with injuries to his wrist, ankles and knees.
He has way to much pride to continue playing beyond his contract if he can’t do it 100%. In the CBS interview, Bryant was asked if he would hang on an extra year or 2 as a role player in hopes of winning a championship if he were to only average 15 or so points a game.
“That’s not gonna happen. That’s just not me.”
I believe what’s keeping Kobe going at this stage is that elusive 6th championship ring, which would tie him with the great Michael Jordan.
With Dwight Howard and Steve Nash now on board, these next 2 seasons may truly be his last shot at tying “his Airness”.
Of course, all of this is hypothetical as of now. There is no guarantee that Kobe will in fact retire in 2 years. He’s brought it up as a possibility, but as we’ve seen with several NBA players in the past (including Michael Jordan himself), it’s quite the task to fully walk away from the game for good.
Perhaps Bryant’s competitive nature will keep him playing beyond his current contract. Maybe one more ring isn’t enough. Perhaps passing Jordan instead of tying him is the ultimate goal.
One thing is definitely for sure. Regardless of whatever decision Kobe makes at the end of the 2013/14 season, he will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest scorers and greatest players the league has ever seen.
Another ring or two would just be icing on the proverbial cake at this point.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports