In the past, Kobe Bryant has said this is it. He’s going to play these two years with the Lakers then retire, move to Florida, eat soup for dinner and watch a lot of “CSI:Miami” reruns.
People around him believe that he believed that, but also thought when it came tim to hang up the Nikes and turn off the competitive juices (at least in the NBA setting) it wouldn’t be easy for him. He’d want to keep going if healthy, especially if he were putting up numbers. And this season he is putting up numbers.
Lakers’ coach Byron Scott said Wednesday he hoped to have a team in Los Angeles that would intrigue Kobe enough in a couple that he’d want to stick around. Put him in the camp that thinks Kobe wants to keep going. After those comments Kobe was asked about continuing to play, and he sounded more open to the idea than we have heard from him before, as reported by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
“Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t want to be coy about it,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 111-95 loss on Wednesday to the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center. “I don’t know what to tell you. Right now I’d say no. But it doesn’t matter. Would that change a year form now or something like that?…
“If I want to play, I’ll play. I tend to make my own decisions. If I don’t want to play, I won’t play,” Bryant said. “It’s just a feeling on if I want to go through the process of being ready every single day and the amount of commitment that it takes. Its nuts. If I want to continue to do that, I will. If I don’t, I don’t.”
That would be self-aware Kobe recognizing that he doesn’t know.
If Kobe is playing at the end of next season near the level he is now, my guess is he will not be ready to walk away. That’s just my speculation, but it’s an informed guess having been around the Lakers and Kobe.
To me the more interesting question is: Would he leave and go to another team to chase that sixth ring? He has adamantly said no, backed the Buss family and said he wants to retire a Laker. I have no doubt he means that. But if he still wants to play come the summer of 2016 and the Lakers are still in full on rebuilding mode around him (which is likely) will he have another change of heart?