Is Kobe Bryant a liar? No, not that we can prove. That said, don’t bother buying into the self-imposed retirement talk.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, made it clear that he may have no intention of playing beyond the life of his current contract, which expires after the 2013-14 campaign.
Speaking with CBSSports.com in a quiet moment after practice, Bryant conceded that, in all likelihood, the finish line and the conclusion of his current contract will be one in the same. Bryant has two years left, and though he was careful to point out, “One can never be too sure,” he made it clear in the next breath it’s almost unfathomable he would play beyond 2013-14, which would be his 18th season.
“It’s just that three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health,” Bryant said. “That’s a lot of years. For a guard? That’s a lot of years.”
To an extent, Bryant is right, that is a lot of years, and his impending retirement also makes sense, considering Pau Gasol’s contract is up that summer as well. But are we really supposed to believe this?
Yes, I understand that Bryant is 34 and will be going on 36 by that time, but I wouldn’t count on him retiring.
For one, Steve Nash’s contract extends one more season beyond that, and if he and Dwight Howard remain, is Bryant likely to pass up the opportunity to chase another ring? And what happens if Bryant fails to win his sixth championship in the next two years? Can we really see him passing up one more opportunity to do so? Yet even if he wins another one or two, if Nash and Gasol aren’t prepared to retire, would he really say no to chasing his seventh or eighth ring?
Maybe, but maybe not.
The day for Bryant to retire is going to come, and when it does, it’s going to be tough to accept for a lot of people. After all, what will the NBA be like without Bryant to help bolster its image? It’s an uncomfortable question, but one that will eventually become a reality.
But will such a scenario be actualized by 2014?
As Bryant himself notes, “one can never be too sure,” yet until his abilities are stifled, until his potential impact is diminished to that of less than a superstar and until he obtains—at the very least—one more championship ring, I’m not reading too much into his latest sentiments.
And you shouldn’t either.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.