Kobe Bryant raised some eyebrows earlier this year when he said that he would probably retire from basketball in two years. Even though the prospect of a 36-year-old surefire Hall of Famer calling it quits isn’t actually crazy, the idea of an NBA without without Kobe definitely is.
For the new generation of hoops fans, that nifty post-Michael Jordan group, the Black Mamba has been their M.J.
This week, Ken Berger of CBS Sports caught up with Bryant and asked him about his retirement plans. Would he really consider hanging up his kicks as soon as 2014? And if so, why?
"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 told Berger.
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"That's a lot of years. For a guard? That's a lot of years."
Yup, it is. Also, don’t forget – Kobe has played nearly three additional seasons in postseason games. That’s a ton of milage on the tires of a guy who had to carry some pretty bad Lakers teams post-Shaq, pre-Pau.
But what if he was still feeling good, Berger asked.
"It's not about health necessarily," he said. "It's about 'Do I want to do it? Do I have that hunger to continue to prepare at a high level?' "
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And therein lays the key. He doesn’t just want to be around. If Kobe is in the league, he wants to be able to both prepare and play at an elite level. Interestingly enough, Berger pressed on him that. He presented the question: what if you could stick around and pad your stats, but only do it at a 15-point per game clip?
"That's not gonna happen," Bryant said. "That's just not me."
(Kudos CBS Sports)