No one truly knows when Kobe Bryant will call it a career except Kobe himself, and that’s how it should be. Kobe stated as a rookie that he didn’t plan on playing past 35 years of age, or until he could no longer play at the extremely high level he performs at, and he’s stuck to his guns up to this point in his storied career. The Laker faithful would love to see him play until he can no longer walk or dribble a basketball, I think everyone would actually, the man’s a future Hall of Famer. He’s been with the franchise since he was traded to Los Angeles on draft day in 1996, and he has no plans on ever playing for anyone but the purple and gold.
Kobe doesn’t plan on leading everyone on until the final minute about his retirement plans so he’s given himself a deadline of this upcoming Summer for his decision to be final. This via NBA.com:
“We’ll talk,” Bryant said after piling up 19 points, 14 assists against one turnover and nine rebounds while playing all but 23 seconds of the 103-98 victory over the Kings at Sleep Train Arena. “I’ll talk to my family and stuff and really see if I want to continue to sacrifice as much as I’m sacrificing right now. I’m putting my body through a lot to just try to get ready to play every single night. To do what I’m doing right now, it’s not easy. I’ll tell you, it’s taken a lot of commitment.”
People and fans everywhere don’t often take a moment to sit and think about what it takes to play basketball as marvelously as Kobe Bryant does, sure he has the talent to back it up, but to tap into the full potential of that talent takes sacrifice, commitment, and the strongest love of the game one can imagine. Asked if he thinks next season will be his last, Bryant was short and to the point:
“As I sit here right now, yeah.”
Is there anything the Lakers can say that would make it more likely you play beyond next season?
“No,” Bryant told NBA.com. “It’s my decision. It’s really about what I want to do, if I want to train and be psychotic with my training. That’s what it comes down to. It’s really how I’m feeling physically.”
Personally, I feel Kobe will continue beyond next season, or he’ll take a season off, realize he made a mistake and make a comeback much like Michael Jordan did. However, Kobe would likely come back to Los Angeles and play for them again as opposed to another team, but this is all just speculation and again no one knows what will happen except Bryant himself.
We all have to take a minute and think about how hard Bryant has worked over the past 17 years in the NBA, and the kind of love and dedication to the game he has. Doing that for another 3 years is quite daunting to think about and at 35 years old by the start of next season Bryant may just not have it in him. This Summer will be highly intriguing for Los Angeles with the pending resigning of C Dwight Howard and what direction the Lakers organization would like to take the franchise based on Bryant’s imminent decision. In the end it’s Bryant’s decision to make and no one else should have a say in it, he’s absolutely earned that.