After 20 seasons in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, superstar Kobe Bryant will officially retire once the 2015-16 NBA season comes to an end next year. Bryant had been reluctant to label an expiration date on his basketball career, but surprised everyone with the announcement before Sunday’s game against the Indiana Pacers.
Following the loss to the Pacers at the Staples Center, Bryant addressed the media and talked about his plans for the future. Kobe said during the process of coming to terms with retiring and the time he’s spent in the league over the past few years, he’s loved the respect he’s received from his peers around the league.
Bryant mentioned Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving among players that have reached out to him in the past via Mike Trudell of Lakers.com:
Kobe said the thing that means the most to him is the respect he gets from the players around the league.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 30, 2015
After so many years as the most dominant force in the NBA and a player that mirrored arguably the greatest player of all-time in Michael Jordan, Kobe seems to be accepting his role as a mentor. Not only is Bryant a mentor for the young players currently on the Lakers roster, but also around the league with everyone trying to soak up the knowledge from the basketball icon.
With 66 games left in the regular season, Bryant will continue to mentor his teammates and others in the league he’s built relationships with over the years. Kobe seems to be content with retirement decision and will push his 37-year-old body to the limit over the next few months to end his career in the best way possible.
The Lakers will now head on an eight-game road trip with Bryant next time on the floor being back in hometown to take on the Philadelphia 76ers.