Coming into the 2012-13 NBA season, Kobe Bryant will have his sights set on winning that elusive sixth championship with the Los Angeles Lakers while playing alongside fellow superstars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
The odds of winning another championship before calling it a career have greatly improved with Howard and Nash in the fold along with Pau Gasol in Los Angeles for another two years. Even though the chances of winning a sixth ring appear to be better than ever for Kobe, the future Hall of Famer still seems intent on retiring at the end of his current contract with the Lakers according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
Speaking with CBSSports.com in a quiet moment after practice, Bryant conceded that, in all likelihood, the finish line and the conclusion of his current contract will be one in the same. Bryant has two years left, and though he was careful to point out, “One can never be too sure,” he made it clear in the next breath it’s almost unfathomable he would play beyond 2013-14, which would be his 18th season.
“It’s just that three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health,” Bryant said. “That’s a lot of years.”
As the highest paid player in the league over the next two years with $27.8 million owed to Kobe for the upcoming season and $30.4 million for the next, money is not an issue or a motivating factor for the five-time NBA champion. The only thing on his mind at this point is winning another championship or two before walking away from the game.
At 36 years-old at the beginning of the final year of his contract with the Lakers, Kobe seriously considering retirement makes a lot sense. The veteran guard will have two more 82-game seasons under his belt along with a couple potentially deep runs in the playoffs.
Playing alongside Nash and Howard may benefit Kobe in terms of not having to shoulder the load over the next two years and as a result not taking such a heavy toll on his aging body, but he seems adamant about retirement.
Although retiring seems highly likely after two more seasons, anything is possible from now until the end of the 2013-14 NBA season. If the Lakers turn out to be as dominant as they look on paper and a perennial NBA title contender, Kobe might be compelled to continue battling for a sixth ring or more if the team wins one or more championships over the next two years.
Only time will tell if Kobe feels the time is right after two more years to retire or attempt to win as many championships as possible if this team filled with superstars can stay intact.