The Kobe Bryant Retirement Factor

HANG TIME WEST – Cryptic has never been his thing, and so there was Kobe Bryant early Saturday, the morning after, raw as ever on a Facebook post. He was angry and resolute, flinging exclamation points. Typical Kobe, in other words.

The real insight was that he was making no promises for the future. Friday night against the Warriors in Los Angeles will not turn out to be his last time on the court before stepping gingerly into retirement with a torn left Achilles’ tendon – that much he insisted in a declaration that should surprise no one. But his future beyond the planned comeback sometime in 2013-14, the final season on his contract?

Uncertainty.

Doubt, even.

The compounding problem is that a lot of doubt already existed. Not only that, it centered on the physical aspect and how much longer he could commit to the monastic workout routine required to play at a superstar level at age 34. Bryant openly questioned whether he would be able to merge body and mind beyond the one more full season. I have known Kobe since he was 17 and had never heard the man of supreme confidence more accepting of being a mortal.

When we sat alone two weeks to the day of the Facebook introspection, he said he planned to decide this summer  whether to retire after 2013-14 or plot for the year after that as well. He didn’t want the uncertainty to drag into next season, for the Lakers’ sake and his own. That would allow both sides to prepare for the future.

He was leaning toward retirement, Bryant said in re-affirming previous statements, because “I’m putting my body through a lot to just try to get ready to play every single night. To do what I’m doing right now, it’s not easy. I’ll tell you, it’s taken a lotta lotta commitment.” And that was before Friday night at Staples Center and the workout hill that just got much, much steeper. He was already tiring of constantly feeding the fire. Major rehabilitation on top of that adds to the requirement.

Even before the injury, it was “It’s really about what I want to do, if I want to train and be psychotic with my training. That’s what it comes down to. It’s really how I’m feeling physically.”

Bryant will play again next season, as he exclamation-pointed out. The uncertainty is when and at what level, but no way he goes out like this. The question from there is whether he calls it a career, as he originally seemed ready to do, or whether the injury changes his outlook to the point that one of the all-time greats won’t allow himself to leave on such an unrepresentative note.

Maybe Kobe figures this is his body telling him once and for all the time is right to walk away after 2013-14. Or maybe this time Kobe tells himself to go to hell.

The inner-conflict surrounding the future came screaming out in the Facebook post he said was being written at 3:30 a.m. with his head spinning from pain medication. It began:

“This is such BS! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I’ve done millions of times! The frustration is unbearable. The anger is rage. Why the hell did this happen ?!? Makes no damn sense. Now I’m supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that?? I have NO CLUE. Do I have the consistent will to overcome this thing? Maybe I should break out the rocking chair and reminisce on the career that was. Maybe this is how my book ends. Maybe Father Time has defeated me…Then again maybe not!”

The Lakers have the option to amnesty Bryant, but that’s not going to happen. For one thing, they wouldn’t be able to re-sign him until after the contract expires, after 2013-14 in this case. And they would lose the Bird Rights that allows teams to exceed the salary cap to re-sign their own players, and then possibly not have any real spending power to bring in free agents, depending on what happens with Dwight Howard starting July 1.

Oh, and Howard could be gone too. No Kobe, no D12 – that’ll be some marketing plan built around Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and a team winning 30-something games.

Most of all, the Lakers won’t amnesty Bryant because, based on their timetable announced Saturday afternoon, he will return in six to nine months, or soon enough to play the bulk of 2013-14. General manager Mitch Kupchak, always grounded in reality, told reporters at the practice facility in El Segundo, Calif., he thinks it is realistic that Bryant could play in the season opener. Cut Kobe loose in July in the name of the payroll and watch him sign with the Clippers for the minimum to stay right in the Lakers’ face.

70 Comments

  1. Venjo says:

    let’s hope kobe retires, that’s the best decision he could do at his age.

  2. sally says:

    WHO CARES WHAT THEY DO WITH HIM…………..HAVE HIM STUFFED AND MOUNTED IN FRONT OF THE STAPLES CENTER.

  3. longwayback says:

    if you’ve ever had this injury or a similar one in your 30’s you’ll understand how monumental the task kobe is now eyeballing. the commitment to the rehab alone is daunting not to mention trying to get back to the level of fitness without injuring something else. i wish dude all the best but i have my doubts he’ll be able to some up the motivation and stay injury free for the next 12 months until he gets back to the level of player he was. remember homie, stay of the cheese burgers.

  4. Kobeblackhole says:

    Kobe is the best, was the best, and will be the best ballhog player in the world. and if you fanoys couldnt see that you aint true basketball fans. never ever put the word BEST beside kobe. there is only one best and that is MJ, not even close enough to be put alongside the GREAT MJ. kobe is only a top 10 player.

    • sportsfan says:

      MJ is actually the best ballhog player in the world. Kobe isn’t as good as a leader as MJ. MJ was able to average more points per game than Kobe and still be a great leader & bring the best out of his teammates.
      Kobe – great ballhog, bad leader
      MJ – greatest ballhog, great leader

    • kb8 says:

      mj isn’t the best kobe is the greatest of all time mj can’t even play this era like kobe did mj will never play like kb8 or kb will never play like mj so don’t compare kb to mj

  5. Lakers says:

    Kobe is the best, was the best, and will be the best.
    Kobe will return more stronger than ever and will win a 6th championship ring.

  6. The simple truth says:

    It comes down to this. To begin, Kobe is the most talented, dedicated, skilled, and hardcore player the NBA has ever seen, and ever will. That is the simple truth. From his long hours of practice, since age 17 till now, and his 17 seasons of record-breaking performance, Kobe has worked his hardest and played the best to get to this hard-earned position. With one injury, a major injury but one injury nonetheless, he will be out for his 6-9 months, yeah, but he will come back. If I had as much achievement and skill as he does, I wouldn’t want it to end like this, and nor would he. He will get better, and come back to the Lakers next season and play just as well, because he is simply the best basketball player alive. He’s too dedicated to the game to stop his game, and he’ll work his posterior off to get back in his [tremendously incredible] shape. It is the simple truth.

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      Father time wins…every time … its nice to think positive, but lets also be logical and realistic about the seriousness of the injury & the age of Kobe bryant. He might not even be able to comeback because of rehab complications with his knee that is on the same leg as the Achilles injury… A sad way to go, but you can’t beat father time !!!

  7. Hatem says:

    very sorry for what happened to kobe

    but I really think that if he broke micheal jordan scoring career in 2013/2014 , we will not see him playing again.

  8. abdi says:

    Lakers give up multiple first and second picks to Phoenix when they traded for Steve Nash. Something like 13′ & 15′ first round pick and 13′ & 14′ second round pick.

  9. Del says:

    Achilles injury just took the G.o.a.t away from basketball….Kobe will be back…..get well soon #24

    Do me a favor kobe, come back with the number #8 destroy the league……for the haters

  10. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    Very sad what happened to kobe. Yes he is a fighter and yes he comes back from injuries very quickly, but he will never be the same player who left the court that night vs golden state if he is even capable of making a comeback… He is human after all. Father time has finally caught up to him and unlike other older players close to kobe’s age, kobe was in denial about his age, all the trainers and even the owner of the lakers told him he cannot play these amount of minutes, his ego wouldnt let him accept the fact that he has to be aware of his age as well as his limitations, just like vince carter/Kg/Duncan all have…(reduced minutes) & (reduced ego)

  11. dwan fulwood says:

    Kobe you are in our prayers. Lakers fans and players need to pick up the slack. Dwight , Pau we bringing the ball inside so take it hard to the rim and dunk it. No fancy stuff just move the ball around until a opportunity to get it inside . Laugh it you want but Miami, Denver, OKC, can be dominated inside the paint by a physical team. No is the time to see what where made of.

  12. Marcus says:

    Never been a Kobe fan but I do appreciate the career he had 1st ballot hall of famer for sure.

  13. Lebanese Lakers/Kobe Fan says:

    Kobe is not just an extra-ordinary player, he leaved his fingerprints on the NBA league for 17 continuous years, and 3 more seasons are yet to come…
    Don’t ever think he’ll retire just like that, the guy is a fighter, it’s not his first injury and after each return he plays better than ever! His age doesn’t matter and the proof is his best records realized at his 34.
    GO Kobe, we believe in your strength, mental and physical, don’t let the jealous people disturb your marvelous path!

  14. W/E says:

    Or maybe he can come back next year and play another 15 seasons until he gets 50. Who knows.

  15. TruthHurts says:

    Kobe has accomplished just about everything a player can in the NBA. Dude is one of the nicest to ever grace the court. And this is coming from a born-and-bred in Boston, lifelong Celtics fan.

    But the reality is, he was already contemplating retirement after next season due to the strains he was putting his body through in order to maintain a high level of play at his age. Those close to him said he was was leaning more towards retirement than coming back, and I believe that’s the case.

    Despite this well written and positively-toned article, this injury just pushes him more towards retirement. I know its hard for Kobe/Lakers fans to contemplate, but you have to face reality. If you’d stop calling everybody a “hater” and think about it for one second, you’d see it too. If Kobe was leaning towards retirement due to what he said he was putting his body through, in his own words, then any reasonable person would surmise that avoiding an injury like this was part of his reasoning. Now that it’s happened, you really think he’s thinking about retirement less?

    Kobe isn’t just thinking about how much money he makes the NBA, how popular a figure he is overseas, how many points he is away from Jordan or any of the other idiotic reasons some of you delusional fans are using to convince yourselves he won’t retire. He’s thinking about the quality of life he’s going to have, physically, for the rest of his life after the NBA. All this “Come back Kobe!!” stuff from his so-called fans is the height of selfishness. He’s put his body thru hell for years for you, let the man rest and enjoy the remainder of his life with his family and friends without the use of a cane or wheelchair. He’s done enough.

  16. Me says:

    Hey every player has strengths and an “achilles’ heel”…

  17. allaroundballer says:

    …one step that I’ve done millions of times! << when you are 35YO and doing that millions of times of course it has a chance to ruin any part your legs. All his career. Kobe is forcing too much. Much respect but again, he works too hard this season

  18. DR BBAL says:

    as long as kobe was on the team i had still a secret hope that the would make some noise in the playoffs now kobe is gone it’s no longer a thing that could happen…
    wish you the best kobe!

  19. HUHUHU says:

    i would wanna retire to if i was in the league like this , game with golden state was a shame and a big joke , golden state was rigged big time , shame on u nba for pushing your lakers like this , sacramento 2001 repeats

  20. NBAlovesKobeandtheLakers says:

    Now let’s see how the refs squeeze them (the Lakers) out on this one.

  21. Lakers' fanboy says:

    I cant stand all these kobe haters anymore….when kobe retired…it is time for me to stop watching NBA too.

    • Damn Lakers fanboys says:

      I can’t stand all these Lakers fanboys anymore. when kobe retires, I’ll start watching some real Teamwork basketball.

  22. Willy H. says:

    Even though Kobe is injured, D12 can lift the Lakers still in the playoffs after the first round at least. And also, stop hating on Kobe, he has done so much for the team in the past years as a Laker.

  23. Gillsy says:

    Kobe will be back unless it’s a career ending injury. The biggest problem for the lakers was giving up so many first round picks over the summer to get Nash rebuilding may take longer to rebuild

  24. D Rose says:

    Kobe should take a year off…

  25. B-B-Fan says:

    Kobe like LA loves a winner especially when they’re the winner, so we know that he won’t let this injury stop him from playing because that would be like quitting and he never quits, and LA and Kobe both hate quitters.

  26. Jowellchua says:

    Retire the greatest ballhog ever, the best there is there was there ever be ballhog player in the world.

  27. Jowellchua says:

    Time to Retire, for so many years hes just been second fiddle to everyone, trying hard to be like MJ, scoring and scoring throwing bricks after bricks, the lakers season failed because of him. if only he played better from the start the lakers would never be in this predicament, lakers fans shouting 72-10 at the start, look where they are now. talk about the so-called super team.

  28. Marcelo says:

    I think that Kobe will never be the same after this injury, because is a serious injury, but really do you think that he will retire after this? i dont think so , Kobe comment that in the locker room, and his answer was: “Really? Really? Are you kidding?”. I believe on lakers, i believe on their players, now i think that Gasol, Nash and Howard can do a really good job on the court they have the necesary for that.

  29. Tommy says:

    Kobe….Please come back.

  30. Mongolia says:

    I love Kobe. Let’s hope Kobe retires.

  31. J Call says:

    I think Kobe will definitely work to come back, and will step foot on an NBA court again. But he will never be the same, he will be like Tracy McGrady when he was with the Hawks;^). He’s too old to make a solid recovery from a serious injury. It really is a shame, I feel sorry for all the Kobe fans, and especially Lakers fans; I feel that this past season foreshadows what will be a long rebuilding process for the Lakers.

  32. Jacey Klein says:

    Why during the Clippers vs. Grizzles game before every commercial break do they only show Memphis highlights ?

  33. jacobm says:

    Let’s hope Kobe retires, maybe then people will find an unselfish player to idolize instead of someone who shoots over triple teams. kobe has ruined the game with his ego.

  34. W/E says:

    Its over for Bryant,he had a great career hes a top 15 player of all time, i put him at 12 place ever he was good enough, he is becoming history everything comes to an end, life goes on the NBA will always have great players and who knows what happens in the future, maybe we havent seen the best of the best yet.

  35. Mageek_Man12 says:

    It is ridiculous to even say Kobe will retire after this one injury. Yes he is getting old and it is a brutal injury but I don’t think he will retire after this injury and leave the NBA on a bad note. He will be back, no doubt.

  36. IVAN GUTIERREZ says:

    El responsable incapaz de dirigir acertadamente un equipo de tanto talento, permitio el protagonismo de Kobe. Como unica formula para impedir que se hundiera la nave lagunera y asi salvar su propio pellejo. MediocriD’antoni y su infeliz metodo fueron los artifices de la lesion que posiblemente marcara el retiro de un jugador tan brillante

  37. Angel says:

    Kobe should take an additional 2 months to recover so he doesn’t rush into playing n he is at his best

  38. joshuan3 says:

    Hey I don’t ever wish that kind of injury on any player but did you see the treatment the Lakers for from the referees?
    Like honestly the NBA needs to be more strict on, its starting to get on my nerve, I understand the lakers in the 8th would bring more money but hey give everyone a fair chance tired of the favorism

  39. LucktheFakers says:

    50 freethrows a game? bobcats can win champ too if they get that amount of FT each game
    what a disgrace. Lakers cant make it to the playoffs if it wasn’t with the help from the referee
    Karma gets you everytime. thats what you deserve, kobe.

  40. WRSmoove says:

    Kobe’s ego,will, and determination won’t let him retire hes only 683 points away from Jordan

  41. Julio Rojo says:

    The man has some serious thinking to do, either way he has accomplished so much and achieve so many awards. If he retires he is already a Legend and nothing he does now will change that and if he decides to come back well then we will all be watching how he continues to challenge and defy father time with all his skills and will to play the game and win. Players like him , Bird, Magic, Jordan, Malone are now very scarce, not a lot of players are as dedicated as he is.

  42. The Lakers had a good run going. It is too bad Kobe got injured. I think they could have done well in the playoffs.

  43. NBALogics says:

    Honestly the rest from the Achilles Tear will also help Kobe recuperate from other injuries as well. He has barely got any rest for the past few yrs. training with Tim Grover will also be really good for him look at what he did to Dwayne Wade? and of course Michael Jordan so we’ll see I wouldn’t count the Mamba out.

  44. Vin says:

    Just mentioning amnesty with Kobe’s name is disrespectful. It is so disrespectful.

  45. Everyone is talking about how Kobe Bryant is going to retire because of injury, he’s 34 years old… He was going to retire next year anyways. He’s had a great career and I don’t Dwight Howard is mature enough to take responsibility and be a leader in L.A. as of yet. Look how he acted in Orlando… You don’t play the blame game you work together towards the goal.

    #KobeNation

  46. Gary Payton says:

    Eighth Kobe blog, is this a Lakers only blog or NBA blog?

    • can thought says:

      apparently, one blog is not enough

    • LakersWillWin says:

      If you read it instead of going straight to the comment section, you would appreciate how beautifully written this blog was. Each writer needs to get their say.

      Nice work, Scott.

    • uoykcuf says:

      As nba blog keep stuffing Kobe injury in my face, I tried my best and reply to all 8 of them. Hope they got that annoying feeling as I did. Now can we see some warriors, Denver or Hawks article? Hope they know they are still in the league and yes I know Kobe is injury and I reply “get well soon” to all 8 of them. See what I did there?

      • Uno de Tantos says:

        Yeah, for sure, break some Curry or/and Al Hoford Legs and your dreams will come true. And now, my question, How old are you? in the last 2 decades Kobe was the Achilles (grab that thing) of the troyan war called NBA, and as the Main hero of the dramma he not only deserves, but must be the centerpiece of the NBA story since the NBA is what it is thanks to the likes of these type of héroes and among them, Kobe is the greatest one of the last 2 decades. Maybe if you mother breaks a nail, you will argue for tyelling the story in an NBA blog, sure she deserves all your love, but Kobe deserves all the love, respect and admiration of the entire world for being the best athlete of the last 20 years. Admit or not, is your business, maybe the rest of the planet is wrong, so buy a house in Denverand avoid the need of Reading stupid blogs about héroes you dislike.

    • Lakers' fanboy says:

      why u read them when hate kobe so much? Kobe is a huge deal because he has done alot for the NBA and a well know figure all around the world. Everyone would likes to read about this important NBA figure. His greatness is undeniable. I know this is the 8th post but everyone of them talks about the different aspect and view of point about this situation. and lastly Kobe helps NBA make alot of money oversea. Why the hate?

  47. Jamison says:

    sorry, but its over. LA LAKERS r done for, but hope for a good lottery pick to build around

  48. steppx says:

    I suspect Howard is gone now even if Kobe tries to return……it wont be in time. Nash retires, and MWP goes off into either his own reality show, or another team. Pau will be traded……I suspect no matter what. So they can then start the long slog back….five years in the lottery, with probably a new coach as well. It wont be pretty.