Father Time is undefeated. While that age-old* aphorism might be correct, don’t tell that to Kobe Bryant, who wants to beat everyone, including that doddering, Father Time fella. Perhaps that’s why Charles Barkley is worried next season might not be Kobe’s last, even though it’s the final year of his current contract and the Lakers aren’t making overtures about an extension.
Sir Charles said as much on Sirius XM’s NBA Radio on Friday, where he was joined by New York Daily News scribe Frank Isola and former player and coach Brian Scalabrine. Chuck admitted he even stayed two years too long, and mentioned how he pained him to watch Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing extend their careers with the Wizards and SuperSonics (R.I.P.)/Magic, respectively.
Here’s what Chuck had to say about Kobe, as transcribed by Fox Sports.
“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. The Lakers aren’t going to make the playoffs. Could he play some more? Yeah, of course. His best days are behind him. 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.”
Barkley continued his on-air air analogy, saying, “Air won’t block your shot,” before mentioning how Kobe isn’t chasing Russell Westbrook or Stephen Curry around multiple screens when he’s training and putting up shots over the summer.
Charles — and most of the basketball-watching populace — doesn’t want to see Kobe keep getting injured. The 2015-16 season shouldn’t be a drive by the Lakers to make the playoffs, but a swan song of sorts where Mamba only plays 20 to 25 minutes a night, and we all revel in his brilliance. Lakers fans might disagree, and they wouldn’t be the only ones.
It’s like Barkley hasn’t been paying close enough attention. Kobe loves to hear people doubt him, just like people doubted MJ before he came back with the Wizards. While Jordan didn’t exactly excel during those final D.C. days, he did play, despite how it somewhat tarnished that lasting legacy following his final shot to win the title over Utah. We’re guessing Kobe feels the same about next season with the Lakers. He’ll inevitably give in to the itch that he can still lace up those Nikes and not only play with the best players in the world, but beat them.
*Anyone who writes that a pun is intentional shouldn’t ever be allowed to write a pun ever again. Puns, by their very inclusion in a piece of writing, are intentional. Writing as such is redundant and drives us mad. On a not-so-unrelated note, it’s August, and we’re getting stir crazy for NBA hoops.