Does Kobe Have One Foot Out Door?

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HANG TIME, Texas – There’s never a shortage of funny stuff being tossed around on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” But Kobe Bryant didn’t seem to be joking when he told the host and that he would be retiring “soon.”

Of course, that’s only natural talk for a 34-year-old who has literally spent half his life playing in the NBA.

Yet it didn’t stop the loud groans of displeasure coming from the studio audience in Hollywood.

Bryant grinned and reminded that it would be nearly two decades of competing — and in his case, that means running, jumping, dunking and trying to chew the legs off his opponents — by the time his current contract expires after next season. He laughed and noted that he entered the league 1996 with a full Afro and now couldn’t grow one if he tried.

Certainly we all seem to understand that he can’t keep up the Black Mamba routine forever. Then along comes a night like Wednesday in New Orleans, when he makes 14 of 21 shots and finishes with 42 points,12 assists and seven rebounds in leading the Lakers back out of a 25-point hole to beat the Hornets.

After all, he still does rank third (27.6 ppg) in the league in scoring, behind only Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony and, perhaps more impressive, tied with the 24-year-old Durant in total minutes played (2,370).

We keep watching him push the boundaries, test his own limits and try to drag this collection of disparate Laker parts into the playoffs sometimes with the sheer force of his own will and tend to forget that he might have logged more miles than some of the now-retired space shuttles.

Bryant says he will not play for any team other than the Lakers, which would force major concessions or restructuring of his salary (and maybe the entire Lakers organization) if he decides to continue on beyond 2013-14. The club is intent on lowering payroll below the luxury-tax plateau and Bryant’s contract calls for $30.4-million next season. How much of a discount would he give the Lakers to keep chasing championships alongside or maybe without Dwight Howard?

Even if he got his sixth NBA title sometime by June of 2014, how hard would he chase No. 7 in order to pass Michael Jordan?

Then again, the driven man who has modeled so much of his on-court aura around Jordan surely understands that he will never again be able to come close to feeding his competitive fire the same way again once he steps off the court for good.

You know that Bryant surely read Jordan’s recent interview with Wright Thompson in ESPN the Magazine where the 50-year-old said: “Man, I wish I was playing right now. I would give up everything now to go back and play the game of basketball.”

Maybe he is much closer to the end than we realize after watching all that he still can do in driving himself for 42 minutes to keep the Lakers’ playoff hopes alive in a critical game in New Orleans.

The only other question left is who’ll miss Kobe more when he’s gone: his fans or the ones who root against him?

37 Comments

  1. rayallen20 says:

    as a celtic fan, i’ll be sad if kobe retires. nothing gets me more pumped up than a lakers-celtics match. and kobe will always be a factor of the interesting matches. anything can happen with this guy.

  2. bigseanny says:

    Kobe Bryant will win 6 NBA titles and go down as one of the greatest NBA players.

  3. thierry says:

    I m not the fan of Kobe but what can I say he’s really impressive, I can understand some people do’t like him, I prefer guys likes rodman and ron artest, but he s truly amazing,the thing is tobe neutral it s hard but the 25point deficit thingthey did was somthing that was really incredible, somthing that I might not seen soon. Please more players like him and less haters

  4. Ruaidri says:

    Kobe please stay!
    I am not a Lakers fan. But with you in the league it is far more interesting. Kobe, you are the face of one of the biggest franchises in the NBA. You are a truly competitor and show everybody what it is to be a professional!

    Please keep playing, till your body really cannot go anymore. I hope than you check the calendar and are far in your 40′s!

  5. chthro says:

    I encourage anyone that appreciates the game of basketball to sit down and watch Kobe during the 4th Q and OT from Mar 8th. Forget about comparing MJ, forget about LBJ, forget about everything else and just watch what Kobe play. If you do not appreciate his performance, you clearly allow your personal feelings about Kobe to cloud your judgement. I feel bad for the person that if so consumed by comparisons that they aren’t able to sit back and enjoy watching someone who is undoubtedly one of the best to ever play the game.

    I doubt that there is a single current or past legend of the game that would not acknowledge that this performance was one of the best they have seen. That said, I’m sure Kobe values their evaluation of his performance far more than someone who can’t figure out what the CAPS LOCK key does

  6. cadroy says:

    Wow people disregarding Pippen Rodman Kukoc Kerr as lowly.If Kobe had a Pippen he would have 8 rings.

  7. Angel monsod says:

    The video DID not indicate any hint that Kobe will be RETIRING soon ( watched it and replayed it for several times). But if Kobe was about to go then its not only the fans, the LA community who will miss him, but the whole basketball world. It’s like this man is out of this world when he plays. Not only he inspires and entertains basketball addicts like us, he truly shows that though a basketball is a TEAM sport, one man can change the outcome of the game. Just look how he recently dominated the New Orleans and Toronto games. Man I’m damn sure I’ ll miss Kobe but I know the retirement part WON’T BE VERY SOON, so LA fans be happy! Just to be sure you can watch the video from Jin kimmel. Thanks.

  8. J-Short says:

    A legend, all I can say I cant name but a hand full of NBA players who still demanded a double team at the end of games. Also people bring up the shooting percentage in the closing minsutes which is find, but if you put all of the today’s great players on one 12 man team and the game is tied and it is 5 seconds left until the end, even with a low shooting perentage most of those great players of even today would rather have Kobe shoot ( make or miss) in those last seconds. Respect.

  9. NBA FAN says:

    I hope Kobe Bryant will not retire. I admire his determination to win a game and I love his playing style, Spin move then fade away shot. It’s awesome to see that.

  10. Max says:

    Kobe Bryant is the best ever total basketball Player! Michael Jordon was the best for the times in which he played, However, M.J. if 34 could not play in the same league as Kobe Bryant. I love LBJ but if a game is on the line, then it would be Kobe Bryant! So, yes as of 2013 Kobe Bryant is the outstanding best Basketball player. Cannot go back and compare someone who played in a different time. They did not have to play against as much talent.
    LBJ is the most Athletic, BUT, he cannot always been counted on to make FREE THROWS/game winning 3 point shots. So, Kobe should be the MVP!! KOBE BRYANT AT THE AGE OF 34????mvp!!!!!

    • Average Joe says:

      MJ at 34 was still leading the Bulls to a championship, with only Pippen and himself as All-stars and Rodman and Kukoc as help. MJ at 40 was still averaging 20+ pts a game and almost leading the Wizards to the playoffs. Yeah, sure Kobe and MJ are miles apart when they’re 34, with Jordan leading the way.

    • JimD54 says:

      talent these days,if the NBA called traveling like they did in the old days none of these modern day carry artists would average 10 points a game

    • Francisco says:

      because MAX says so, funny, this is another example of how fans wrongly perceive reality, you saw it do it and keep it in mind , when hes misses(most of the times) you delete it from memory, look dude MICHAEL ROOKIE SEASON WAS BETTER SEASON THAT KOBE HAD , HAS AND WILL HAVE, EVEN AT HIS PRIME , REALITY CHECK, SINCE THE SECOND SEASON LBJ IS PUTTING BETTER NUMBERS THAN KOBE YEAR AFTER YEAR,yes kobe migth be probably the best to playER at 34, BUT HE WAS NOT AT 19, HE WAS NOT AT 22,25,28,30 AND 32, michael was and then LBJ.LAST YEAR KOBE WAS NUMBER 38 AT CLUTCH TIME, DURANT 34,THESE ARE REALLLL STATS.

      • dan'o says:

        What separates Kobe and Michael from the rest of the pack is a pathological competitive spirit. That drove their unreal work ethic, commitment to defense and desire to have the ball in the clutch. Lebran, the best player today dominates with superhuman speed, size and strength. While he does have a high basketball IQ, he lacks #s 23 and 24 insatiable appetite to win. This describes Kobe and Jordan’s success past athletic prime and leads me to wonder how LBJ will fare when his advantages erode with time…

  11. MJfromOKC says:

    As a long time NBA fan this makes me feel old. Kobe is only about six months older than me.

    He is certainly one of the greatest players of all time.

  12. specialfriedrice says:

    Kobe…the most over rated player of all time…

    • Scot The Magician says:

      ……..
      ur a moron
      i wont even mention all his unbelievable stats from the past 17 yrs…ill just bring u back one dam game:
      42pts(14/21 fgs) 12ast 7 rbs………….
      over rated…..
      again…..
      ur a moron

      • Francisco says:

        LETS COMPARE STATS WITH MIAMI NUMBER 6

      • Scot The Magician says:

        ok sure..lets make it comparitive francisco u imbicile
        leta look at kobe at 28 and lebron at 28……………
        more pts, more rings, more all star games and mvps more this more that
        65 pts, 62 pts(in 3 quarters) 81 pts
        game winner after game winner after game winner

        only 2 years ago lebron was mister choke, never took game winners and couldnt win……

        so yah lets compare

  13. Jimmy J says:

    Maybe he’ll take a year out in 2014 and come back in 2015-2016 season like what MJ and Phil Jackson did…

  14. theholyspectator says:

    how many years has it been since he lifted that trophy? i say kobe you did your service, you got 5 rings, now play out your final season next year and hang em up…dont keep playing and not wining…its not a good look of a champion…he wouldnt be leavin on a high note but it be better than playin til hes 40 and not win a ring from now til then…cuz lets face it lakers arent winning another championship for a very long time..

  15. DIRK-DURANT-KOBE-RONDO-WESTBROOK says:

    I’ve been a lakers fan ever since I was in the 3rd grade, It will be very sad seeing Kobe retire, as he is the best player that has ever stood on the floor in my life time, well aside from jordan.

  16. Patty says:

    DOES KOBE HAVE ONE FOOT OUT DOOR?

    I CERTAINLY PRAY THAT KOBE WILL NOT RETIRE. HE IS MY FAVORITE PLAYER!!!

  17. CP403 says:

    #CountonKobe

  18. Matthew Caba says:

    Kobe has 3 years by himself but with all-stars he has 5 years.

  19. Emong says:

    One last MVP for Kobe!

  20. Big Al says:

    Jordan has played in his 40s and has once brought the lowly Wizards to the playoffs. Kobe is still very effective at his age. Whether or not he will hang his jersey in two years depends on what’s in store for him in the future. Is he able to genuinely hunt for another title next year? His talks of retirement should trigger the Lakers management to seriously strengthen the lineup. Having the best shooting guard and center in one team yet on the verge of not making the playoffs is absurd. The Mamba is doing his job so well, so it’s up to his teammates to step up big time. I love his professionalism and seriousness in the game, but he needs help to bag an MJ-tying sixth crown.

    • uoykcuf says:

      Ok, I am a big MJ fan but he didn’t lead wizard to the playoffs. I think they are around 9-10 seed. Still make it very competitive with a rosters full of scrubs. White, P. jones, Lue. at 40.
      Meanwhile I don’t think your kobe can play until 40.

  21. garyburn7 says:

    The fans will miss him more Fran…

  22. nba fan says:

    he is going to play till he 38

  23. KB24 says:

    Kobe is and forever will be a legend, I hope he will play for more than 2 years…but only him can decide that.
    He’ll miss to everybody for a simple reason: his very very great talent

    • Patty says:

      I CERTAINLY AGREE. JUST THINKING ABOUT KOBE RETIRING. MAKES ME VERY SAD.

      • i have been a laker fan all my life..what kobe has brought to the games of basketball and to the lakers was sheer greatness..when i have children they will rant about kobe like we do about MJ..LAKER 4 LIFE

    • Scot The Magician says:

      To much is made of age
      forget years in life and years in the L

      hes “still” top 2 or 3 in the league, and thats without question. i think he “still” has a case for the number 1 spot.
      When the man cant play 40 mins, score 30 a night, shoot 45+% dish out 5 ast per, etc etc then……consider hanging them up.

      some guys peak at 24, some 40….MJ was still aweomse at 45

      And mamba you cant bail now, now that we have dwight. steve nash is washed up, get a new pg. then u have one of best centers (best when healthy and will be by next year), best 2 guard ever in urself and get a quick point.
      GAME ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Its not time to hit the power off button anytime soon. forget all this age BS and PLAY F%$#$%^ BALL!!!!

      • Francisco says:

        HE DOES NOT SCORE 30 PER NIGTH, 25 YES, THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE , THAT IS WHY MICHAEL WAS SOO GREAT 30 PPG WHILE SHOOTING ALMOST 50%

      • Lakersfan4ever says:

        @ Francisco, Kobe is scoring 27.6 ppg a night not 25 ppg. Kobe will not retire after this season, maybe when his contract expire. Go Kobe and Lakers.