Heading into his 20th NBA season, all with the Los Angeles Lakers, many believe that this will be the Kobe Bryant’s final year. Kobe himself has admitted that he could retire, but maintains that he will make that decision once the season is done.
One person who hopes that this will be Kobe’s final season is NBA Hall of Famer and Turner Sports broadcaster Charles Barkley. According to FOXSports.com, Barkley told Sirius XM NBA Radio that this season should be a farewell tour as he doesn’t want to see Kobe try to hang on for too long:
I hope he retires, because I don’t want to see — I probably played two years too long. I hate to see Patrick Ewing, great as he was, struggle — I don’t like seeing great players just out there, you know?” Barkley said. “Michael Jordan playing for the Wizards, that didn’t do anything for me. Kobe’s obviously not going to walk away from $30 million. This should be like a farewell tour, play 20, 25 minutes a night.”
Barkley also added that getting in shape in the summer is a completely different thing than playing during the actual season:
I hear these fools on TV, talking about, ‘Kobe’s going to get healthy.’ Old people don’t get healthy; they die. Old people don’t get healthy. Father Time is undefeated. … You can get in great shape in the summer, because you’re playing against air. Air doesn’t hit back.”
There are a number of NBA players who probably played for too long and while it doesn’t taint their careers, it pains fans to have to watch them well past their prime. Hakeem Olajuwon on the Raptors and Michael Jordan on the Wizards are best to be forgotten.
It still looks like this will be Kobe’s final NBA season, though it may not necessarily end his basketball career. There is a chance that he could play in the 2016 Olympics and try to end his career with a gold medal, and even playing overseas has been mentioned.