It wasn’t really all that surprising to most that Kobe Bryant formally announced this season would be his last last Sunday considering his and his team’s struggles this season, but still, no one knew for sure if Bryant would try and make another go of it next year until he formally announced his retirement from basketball.
Kobe told the world he was retiring in a poem in The Players’ Tribune, but before that, the first person he told (at least officially, as he might have hinted it to Michael Jordan and Dwyane Wade in the offseason) was Byron Scott, when he let it slip to his head coach that he was retiring in the middle of the Lakers game against Portland last Saturday, according ESPN.
The conversation came about when Scott expressed to Kobe that he was playing him too many minutes. That’s when the Black Mamba told his coach not to worry about it, because he wouldn’t be playing past this season anyways.
“I said, ‘KB, I played you 20 minutes in the first half. I’m going to cut those minutes down. I’ve got to cut them down,'” Scott said after his team’s morning shootaround ahead of their game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. “He said, ‘That’s good, coach. That’s all right. I’m going to announce my retirement after the game.'”
Kobe said he wasn’t planning on telling Scott in that manner, but since it slipped out, he was going to use that opportunity to mess with his coach and one-time teammate a little bit before making it official.
“I have no idea. I don’t know,” Bryant said on why he made his revelation during play. “It just slipped out. It just slipped out. He was worried about the minutes. I said, it doesn’t matter. I’m not playing next year anyway. He was like [gives an odd stare]. I looked at him at his face, and I realized I said it. He was just shocked. I said, you know what? I’m just leaving him like that. I’m not even going to soften him up. I’m just going to mess with him a little bit.
Needless to say, it must have been tough for Scott to keep coaching the rest of the game after that bombshell was dropped on him. Scott told Kobe how caught off guard he was when the former MVP told him this year would be his last.
“I told him the next day, ‘You know you shocked the s— out of me when you told me that,'” Scott said. “He just started laughing. I said, ‘You really did.’ He said, ‘I know. I could see it on your face.'”
With Kobe officially hanging it up, Scott is now free to play him as much as he wants, which I’m sure D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson are thrilled about.