Kobe Bryant Confirms Next Season Will Be The Last Of His Hall-Of-Fame Career

UPDATE: Kobe denies the report and says it’s “not true.”

Everyone assumed this was the case, but until today we didn’t know if next season would be the last for Kobe Bryant. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Bryant said  the 2015-16 NBA season will be the end of his basketball career. He’s hanging up the Nike’s at the end of the two-year extension he signed last season and will pay him $25 million in his last year as a player. Mamba is retiring from the hardwood, but we might seem him appear in another field, one that’s behind the glare of the spotlight: filmmaking.

Vino sat with the THR and the filmmaker, Gotham Chopra, behind Showtime’s Kobe Bryant’s Muse documentary airing on Feb. 28. In the wide-ranging interview, set to hit newsstands on Feb. 27, Bryant admitted that he’ll hang up the Nike’s after next season.

Bryant’s Q&A section live on THR website doesn’t directly address his decision to retire after one more year, but the lede in the piece alludes to the announcement, as does the headline and the PR ping we got this afternoon:

The L.A. Lakers’ Kobe Bryant has been contemplating life after basketball since he was 22. Now that he’s 36, out due to injury and close to retirement, he says he’ll play one more season and finish his two-year contract, which will net him $25 million.

Mamba’s discussion about the darker segments of a career, which — will have reached 20 years by the time his final season expires — was discussed, including his 2003 sexual assault charges:

You were very candid about the dark periods in your life. Was that difficult?

BRYANT It was very difficult. But there’s beauty in that process.

You were arrested in 2003 on sexual assault charges, but the case was dropped. How difficult was that to revisit?

BRYANT Those were dark days for all of us. We all kind of dreaded that day.

Bryant does discuss wanting to get into the filmmaking business after working with Chopra, and he has his sights on profiling former coach, Phil Jackson, and Apple designer, Jonathan Ive. Just don’t ask him to get in front of the camera like some of his NBA brethren. Despite more than 20 years under the blaze of NBA lights and all the celebrity that comes along with it, Bryant isn’t very comfortable in front of the camera — at least, as an actor.

Some of your NBA peers have dabbled in acting. Do you have any interest in a career in front of the camera?

BRYANT No, I don’t enjoy being in films. It makes me uncomfortable.

Other tidbits from the section of Q&A that was released online today: his difficult initiation into the Association straight out of high school, and the regret he sometimes feels about taking so much time away from his family to train and compete at the level we’re all accustomed, most of all Bryant.

There’s no one else like Kobe, despite the MJ idolatry we often spotted earlier in his career. We can’t wait to see Chopra’s documentary or what Bryant gets involved with after next season.

[The Hollywood Reporter]