At 33-years-old, five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant is starting to think about the future and life after basketball. Even though Kobe is still performing at an extremely high level, the perennial All-Star knows it is only matter of time until his skills begin to decline.
The recent acquisition of two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and a potential blockbuster trade to bring in Dwight Howard may be enough to convince Kobe to prolong his career and possibly sign another contract after his current deal expires. As of right now, Kobe has no intention of signing another deal with plans to retire.
With two years left on his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe is seriously considering calling it a career at 35 years-old after two more seasons after making that clear in an interview with Graham Bensinger via Yahoo Sports:
“That’s still probably accurate. When I’m 35 it will be my 18th year in the League, that’s a long time to be playing. That will be the last year of my contract… I’ don’t know. I’m not sure. I’ve seen so many players retiring and then they come back… I don’t want to be one of those guys but I’m sure they said it too.”
Some of the greatest players in NBA history haven’t been able to avoid the temptation of staying in the game longer than they should or making the decision to come out of retirement. Lakers legend Magic Johnson and arguably the greatest player to ever play the game in Michael Jordan both made the costly decision to stick around when they should’ve stayed retired.
As Kobe alluded to in the interview, he has no intention to make the same mistake that Magic and Jordan made in terms of returning or prolonging their careers. Even though Kobe is only 33 years-old, the one-time NBA MVP started his career at 17 years-old and has a lot miles on his legs in comparison to Magic or Jordan at the same age.
With that being said, Kobe will have played 19 years in the league once his contract with the Lakers expires. There’s no telling how dominant the Lakers will be over the next two years with Nash in the backcourt alongside Kobe, and Howard potentially in the paint. Even though the success of the Lakers in the last two years of his deal may extend his career, there’s no guarantee he won’t retire.