Two-thirds of the NBA players with a “Mamba” nickname squared off in a game of knockout at a recent charity event — the Spurs Matt Bonner vs. former NBA player Brian Scalabrine. I’m sure Kobe Bryant wanted to be there, but he has this whole “Nike-fueled tour of China” thing going on.
This is the best battle of knockout between NBA-level red heads you will ever see. Bonner eeks out the win with the dagger three.
Hat tip to Eye on Basketball.
Kobe Bryant said he’s unsure when he’ll retire.
The next question, with Kobe’s Lakers contract entering its final season: Where he’ll retire?
There had been talk of Kobe leaving the Lakers in free agency next summer. That seems possible, but unlikely – at least for another NBA team.
Maybe Kobe will finish his career outside the NBA, an idea he and Pau Gasol have previously entertained.
Kobe in a Q&A with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
Q: After growing up in Italy and spending time in China, could you see yourself ending your career playing at either place?
Kobe: “I can see myself doing that. I can see myself doing a lot of stuff. That’s a whole other question. I will make some decisions when I decide to hang it up.”
I believe Kobe is open to it. I don’t believe it will happen.
Kobe grew up in Italy, and he’s immensely popular in China. Kobe is more internationally inclined than most NBA players.
But a lot of players talk about intentionally ending their careers overseas. Few do.
Kobe was linked to teams in Italy and China during the 2011 lockout, but nothing ever came of it. I see this consideration receiving a similar fate.
If Kobe is healthy enough to play, would he really go somewhere he can’t chase the all-time scoring record or Michael Jordan’s six championships?
There is 0.000001 percent chance of this happening (go ahead, use your Dumb and Dumber line here), but I found this tweet too funny not to pass along (plus, it’s August, what else is there to talk about?).
At this point, I seriously doubt Pau Gasol — or, for that matter Marc Gasol — decide to finish out their careers returning to play a year or two for Barcelona in the Spanish ABC League and eating some Escalivada. For them, however, it remains a faint possibility.
For Kobe Bryant? Are you kidding me?
Yes, he spent part of his formative years in Europe while his dad played there, but those were some of his dad’s peak years. Kobe isn’t going to pull his daughters out of school and away from their friends for a year like that to extend his career (he’s doing pretty well financially). Moreover, he’s not going to play for a year at a lower level of competition than the NBA just to grow his brand — he doesn’t need to add EuroBasket champion to his resume. Even if he were going to sell out overseas, he’d go do it in China, where he all but walks on water (and sells more shoes).
As much as Gasol found this amusing, I find it funny somebody even bothered to ask him.
Kobe Bryant has played 41 games over the last two seasons due to injury, but he’s not about to let injuries dictate the end of his career. He’s back and ready to roll when Lakers training camp opens in late September in Hawaii.
But is his body ready for the grind? He told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports that it is.
“The body is good. I feel good. … My lower body is solid. There are no question marks on what I can do. My body and my legs feel extremely strong and healthy. That’s the big difference. My upper body, I’ve been doing the weights and stuff like that. I’ve been kind of building up the upper body strength. The biggest change is I feel very, very solid in my legs.”
File this under “what did you expect him to say?”
What we know for sure is that Kobe put in the work to get ready. There is no doubt he’s done the rehab, spent time in the weight room getting stronger, and spent time in the gym working on his moves and getting up shots.
What we don’t know — what nobody knows — is how his body will respond to the grind at age 37 (he turns that later this month).
For his sake, I hope he’s got one more good season in him, one more tour where his body stays healthy. One more season where we get to see his polished game — the footwork in the post, the ability to get to the elbow and get his shot. He was given impressive physical gifts, but nobody worked harder to get as much out of those as Kobe. I want to see all that on display for one more run.
Then he can drive his Ferrari off into the sunset with no regrets.
It’s never easy for great players to leave the game.
Kobe Bryant is not going to let injuries force his decision. He battled back from a torn Achilles and a knee surgery — when most players would have walked away — to be ready for next season. He is going to leave the game on his terms, nobody else’s.
But do his terms come up at the end of this season?
He doesn’t know yet. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has hinted it will be Kobe’s last season (it would help the Laker rebuilding efforts in some ways). However, Kobe once again said he will see how he feels and make a call at the end of the season, this time telling it to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.
“We haven’t set anything in stone and I’ve talked about it before. But could this be the last [season]? Absolutely. It’s tough to decide. It’s really tough to make those types of decisions. Players I have spoken to say, ‘Kobe you will know.’
“I’m making this very simple. Either I like playing the game and going through this process or I don’t. I try to strip it down to the simplest form. Either I like playing some more or I don’t. But I think that decision needs to be made after the season. It’s hard to make a decision like that before the season.”
Kobe doesn’t want a farewell tour with teams giving him rocking chairs and polite applause from the fans in Portland. He wants to go down swinging. We expect nothing less.
But it really comes down to this: Next May or June, when it’s time for Kobe to get back in the gym and go through all it takes to get his body ready for another marathon of an NBA season, will he want to do that or just head over to In-n-Out with his daughters? That’s when he’ll know. Before then, everything is speculation.