Kobe Bryant: “If you asked me today, this would be my last year”

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Kobe Bryant was sitting there with ice on both knees, plus he was hooked up to a machine that kept his surgically repaired shoulder cold. It’s just part of the daily, lengthy routine Kobe has to endure to keep playing NBA basketball.

That’s when the question came: Is this his last year in the league?

Kobe has long denied knowing the answer to that question, but he was channeling a little of Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon in giving his answer, as reported by Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

“If you asked me today, this would be my last year. But you never know,” said Bryant, who is in the final year of his deal with the Lakers. “We’ll keep it open. Whatever happens, happens.”

Kobe has been clear about a few things. He’s not going to play for a team other than the Lakers (it would hurt his brand). And he’s certainly not going into coaching. And he does not want a farewell tour (even though his reception at Madison Square Garden Sunday will feel like one).

But whether he is going to retire, I believe him when he says he ultimately doesn’t know yet. I’ve always been in the camp that this will be it for Kobe — if he’s not going to chase a ring with another team, why would he put himself through all this physically to be part of a multi-year rebuilding process he will not be on the court to see the rewards from?

Bottom line, he’s getting too old for this… stuff.