Yesterday, news broke that Kobe Bryant was planning to retire after two more seasons. The superstar guard for the Los Angeles Lakers indicated that his retirement will likely coincide with the end of his current contract, and that contract expires after the 2013-2014 season. He did not say for certain that he would retire, but he made it all but clear that it would be very unlikely for him to return once his contract runs out.
In an interview with CBS Sports' Ken Berger, Bryant opened up about his time in the league, his plans for the future, and his probable retirement in a couple years. Of course, the issue of health was brought up as a possible reason why Bryant might choose to hang up his sneakers. However, he says health is not a consideration.
"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?' "Bryant is entering his 17th year in the NBA. He came into the league straight out of high school, and this is all he's known ever since. In his previous 16 seasons, Bryant has been an MVP, a Defensive Player of the Year, and a points leader. He has been to 14 All-Star Games and won five NBA Championships. He is a bonafide Hall of Famer and on the same plane as Michael Jordan. He may not ever get the credit he deserves and get the full-on comparisons to Jordan, but Bryant is as good as they come.
He and the Lakers will begin their quest this season for a sixth championship during his tenure when they open the season against the Dallas Mavericks on October 30th. If Bryant truly does intend to retire after these next two seasons, he will have to win a championship in one of these two years to match Jordan's total.