Even though the Los Angeles Lakers lost their sixth consecutive game on Sunday night, the big news of the day came earlier in the day when Kobe Bryant announced that he would retire at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season.
Kobe had continually said that he was unsure if this would truly be his final year, but the announcement on The Player’s Tribune made it clear that Kobe’s 20th season will be his last.
While some fans have called for Kobe to simply retire immediately, Kobe says that he never considered retiring during the season according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
Kobe said he never considered retiring during season "because there is really beauty in the pain of this thing."
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) November 30, 2015
The thought of Kobe retiring in the middle of the season was a bit of a reach for fans, even if Kobe’s play has not been great this season. Of course, Elgin Baylor famously retired nine games into the 1972 season and those Lakers promptly went on an NBA record 33-game winning streak.
Baylor, however, felt he was holding that team back and those Lakers had future Hall of Famers in Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and Gail Goodrich. These Lakers, with Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle, are not close to that level.
It is interesting that Kobe finds beauty in his struggles of this year. In recent years, Kobe has spoken about finding beauty in the process of his recovery from injuries. Now, in his final games, he seems as if he will find more beautiful things, regardless of how ugly the outcomes could be.