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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant Hinted At Retirement; Next Year Could Be Last

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at New York KnicksKobe Bryant brought up retirement in his interview with Stephen A. Smith. He said that he doesn’t have much time left although he didn’t exactly pinpoint how much.

He seemed more specific after Sunday’s night game against the Sixers. He said at a post-game interview that “next year could be the last time he plays there.” And to prove that I wasn’t crazy, this was repeated in a few other reports.

Adrian Wojnarowski has this story on Yahoo! Sports about Kobe possibly retiring:

“He really seemed to be taking it all in and cherishing it tonight,” (Bryant’s high school coach Gregg) Downer told Yahoo! Sports. “He was waving to fans, more interactive than usual. He knows he may be back only a few more times.”

In Bryant’s mind, maybe once more. The possibility of retiring when his contract expires in 2014 still looms large in his mind. He’s weary of the toll that his rigorous workout regimens take on him. It isn’t the winters that wear him out, but the summers.

For Bryant, it took discipline to spare himself the sluggishness that always comes with eating a Philly cheesesteak on a trip home.

“It’s a lot, a lot of work,” Bryant said. “My competitive spirit comes from like every little inch, your body is slowing down, the younger guys are passing you up. It really keeps me on edge.”

Kevin Ding from the Orange County Register also had this report.

Kobe had 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting against the 76ers. He credited his healthier eating and diligent maintenance (such as ice baths) for keeping him feeling this strong at 34.

But he hinted at retirement again after next season: “Next year could be my last time” playing in Philadelphia.

Kobe Bryant is 34. That’s old by NBA standards. He’s in his 17th season and few even get to 15 seasons in the NBA. I think it’s telling when he’s mentioned how he doesn’t have much time left several times in the past few weeks. The wear and tear on his body is getting to him. The injuries keep piling up. He’s not getting any younger. Basically, the end is very near for Kobe.

Not just working through a whole season but preparation in the summer gets taxing, too. At some point, his body and his mind can’t take it anymore. Yes, there are still some records to break and some championships to be won but how much left does Kobe Bryant have to prove? If anything, it’s amazing that he is still playing and it’s even more amazing he’s playing at the level that he’s at.

Guys like Kobe Bryant don’t come along very often. This sounds like the last leg of his journey in the NBA so let’s watch him while we still can. Before we all know it, he’ll be gone from the NBA.

And that’s one thought NBA and Lakers fans don’t even want to cross just yet. Unfortunately, reality is setting in.

Kobe Bryant could indeed be retiring soon.

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Rey Moralde is a Southern California native who has a passion for basketball, old-school video games, sushi, and terrible pop music.

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