The world learned of Kobe Bryant‘s planned retirement last Sunday, Nov. 29, but Laker coach Byron Scott admitted that night he had learned about it the day before when the team had been up in Portland losing to the Trail Blazers. Scott admitted when Kobe told him it caught him off guard.
“I said, ‘what?’ He just told me at a very awkward time, we started laughing about it,” Scott said that night.
Awkward, as in just before the start of the third quarter against Portland, Scott admitted to Baxter Holmes of ESPN.
“I said, ‘KB, I played you 20 minutes in the first half. I’m going to cut those minutes down. I’ve got to cut them down,'” Scott said after his team’s morning shootaround ahead of their game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. “He said, ‘That’s good, coach. That’s all right. I’m going to announce my retirement after the game.'”
Scott said he was stunned.
“I said, ‘What?!'” Scott recalled. “That was the shock part. I was in that state for the rest of the game. Even when I was watching him play [and] I was watching him running up and down, I’m going, ‘Did he just tell me [that]?'”
It took a while for Kobe to fully admit to himself that his body was no longer capable of playing near its former level, no matter how much work he put in to get it ready. In his Showtime documentary “Muse” that aired earlier this year, Kobe talked about that concern, but fully admitting it is something else.
Kobe got to that mental space and is now at peace with his decision. And once he was in that space, he wasn’t going to waste any time letting people know. Whether it was the middle of the game or not.
We’re still going to have good memories and some throwback games, like Bryant had against Washington this week, but those are the exception, not the rule. It’s going to be another long season for the Lakers, with the Kobe farewell tour grabbing the headlines while the team grabs losses.