After announcing his retirement in a poem, Kobe Bryant followed up with a more traditional press conference. But he did so in a very unconventional, Kobe way, taking questions in Spanish, Italian, and English.
The 37-year-old shooting guard reflected that the low points make the high points. “The struggles to get there, that completes the journey,” Bryant said. “If you just have championships, there’s no antagonist. There’s no up and down. It’s the ugly moments that create the beauty. Those are the moments I truly appreciate.”
He suffered through another low point on Sunday. He shot 4-for-20 from the field. The Los Angeles Lakers dropped a close one to the Indiana Pacers 107-103.
When asked about his favorite basketball moment, the all-time leading scorer in a Laker uniform strangely picked the one that did not involve the purple and gold. “Nothing beats getting drafted,” the 1996 first-round Charlotte Hornets pick explained. “Nothing tops that. You dream about that moment. That’s the beginning of it all.”
The five-time NBA champion says he told Michael Jordan of his plans for retirement before almost anyone else and also invoked the coach the two greats shared in common. “I don’t want to get too Zen–like,” Bryant divulged after referencing the “Zen Master” Phil Jackson. “But, honestly, when I’m sitting in meditation, my mind starts drifting. [Before], it always drifted towards basketball. Always. And it doesn’t do that now. It does that sometimes, it doesn’t do that all the time. To me, that was really the first indicator that this game is not something I can obsess over for much longer.”
He wondered what’s ahead. “When I was in Milan, I wanted to meet with Giorgio Armani and talk to him a little bit about how he built his business,” Bryant told the media. “He started building his business at the age of 40. I was 21. I said to myself, ‘I’ll probably play until 35 or 36. He built the whole business at 40. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? What comes next?’”
Last year, the 2008 MVP launched Kobe, Inc., which promptly invested in a coconut-water sports drink. He makes a reported $8 million a year from his Nike deal, which continues after he leaves the court, and broadcasting opportunities await.
What comes next for Kobe and crew are the Philadelphia 76ers, quite possibly the worst basketball team not named “Washington Generals” to play professionally. Perhaps that exaggerates, but Philly owns the record for losses in a row among all four major North American Sports (28 and counting!) and looks to avoid setting an NBA mark for worst start to a season when the 0-18 team takes on their 2-14 last-place Western Conference counterparts tomorrow night.