Heading into the 2015-16 NBA season, it was widely presumed Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant would retire after his 20th year with the franchise. Bryant made that official last month when he announced his intention to retire, citing no longer having a desire to to withstand the physical toll and demands a full season takes on his body.
While the five-time champion is on the verge of walking away from his NBA career, there’s been some speculation Bryant would continue playing overseas given his popularity and lucrative contract that could be had.
Bryant dispelled that notion on Monday, again pointing to physical health, according to Mark Medina Los Angeles Daily News:
Kobe: "I would have loved to play overseas for a season. But it’s not going to happen. I wish I could. But my body won’t let me."
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) December 21, 2015
Bryant has enjoyed a decorated career filled with championships, an MVP Award, and countless other accolades. However, he’s also faced plenty of criticism, and drawn the ire of fans and dealt with multiple season-ending injuries in recent years.
All of that being said, the 37 year old expressed a sense of gratitude over the opportunities he had during his storied career, via Bill Oram of Orange County Register:
Kobe: "I don’t think the basketball gods have treated me unfairly. I think they’ve given me a fantastic opportunity."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 21, 2015
Since making his retirement official, Bryant has largely won over the fan base — both in Los Angeles and on the road. Some of the criticism has turned to admiration, though the 17-time All-Star has aided his cause with improved play.
Bryant is currently dealing with a sore right shoulder, a byproduct of dunking in the Lakers game on Dec. 17 against the Houston Rockets. Bryant missed Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but is expected to play on Tuesday when the Lakers face the Denver Nuggets.