Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant said on Tuesday that he will delay making any retirement decisions until after his 2015-2016 NBA campaign.
In a phone interview with Yahoo Sports, the 36-year-old icon did acknowledge that next season could “absolutely” be his last. He added that players tell him, “Kobe you will know.”
Kobe contends that the decision needs to be made after the season because, “Either I like playing some more or I don’t.” Already committed to play next season, obviously he still likes playing.
Nevertheless, in May Mitch Kupchak said in a radio interview that Kobe Bryant will make the 2015-16 season his last with the Los Angeles Lakers. Appearing on Sirius XM NBA Radio, the Lakers general manager said that Kobe told him “that this is it.”
The Black Mamba enters the last year of his contract, in which he earns a league-high $25 million. Consequently, this could be Kobe’s end of the line with the Lakers, but it may be difficult for him to resist throwing his hat into a very lucrative free-agent ring in 2016.
If health proves good at the end of the season turning down another $20-30 million may prove difficult, even for a very wealthy Kobe Bryant.
The third-greatest scorer in NBA history told Yahoo, however, that it’s not about the money. “I’ve never played for the money. It’s never moved me…. When I laced my sneakers up when I was a kid in Italy I wasn’t thinking about money. I had no idea how much Magic or Larry Bird got paid. I played it because I loved it…. I have my health and we’re comfortable financially and that is a massive blessing.”
A sound body and injury avoidance looms largest for Kobe to continue his extraordinary career. At the moment, he claims that his body remains strong. “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,” he insists.
When asked why he continues to put his body through this after all the years and injuries, Kobe quipped, “I’m crazy. Ha, ha, ha. I love playing. I enjoy it. It’s weird. You go from as a kid loving the game, thinking you will be able to play forever to being where I am now and understanding there is some finality to it.”