The report on Friday from The Hollywood Reporter saying Kobe Bryant had confirmed he was retiring from the NBA after the 2015-15 season are “false,” according to an interview Kobe gave Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose for the Grantland Basketball Hour on ESPN.
When asked by Rose if Kobe would do a farewell tour like the one Derek Jeter went on this past season with the Yankees, Simmons interjected:
“There’s an erroneous report saying that you’d be retiring next season, which is not true.”
“Yeah no, that’s not true,” Kobe said.
Kobe went on to add that the whole swan song thing isn’t really his thing.
“I’m just gonna play,” he said. “I mean it wouldn’t be true to who I’ve been in my entire career to do a farewell tour. First of all I’d feel weird.”
“I’d much rather they treat me like they have my entire career. That’s a sign of respect.”
While it’s entirely possible Bryant hangs it up after next season, when his contract expires and he will have played 20 seasons for his career, Bryant likened it to shooting half-court shots after practice and never wanting to walk away when you think you can hit the next one:
“When do you know? It’s like when you’re standing at half court and you’re all taking half-court shots like goofing around. You make one, right, then ‘let me see if I can make another.’ Make another one. ‘Lemme see if I can make another one.’ Then you miss. You say, ‘well, I can’t end on a miss.’ Right. ‘So let me keep going.’ And so you make one, and you think, ‘well let me see if I can make another one.’ And it goes on and on and on. The cycle just repeats itself. So at what point do you say ‘enough is enough, it’s time to walk away from this thing.’ Right? I don’t know if that moment ever truly exists. It has to be — you kind of have to feel it inside yourself and be, ‘you know I’m ready to move on and do something else.'”
The cyclical nature in the drive to try just one more, but never wanting to go out on a miss while always believing you can replicate another swish, is one of the most apt metaphors we’ve heard for a star athlete retiring.
Kobe doesn’t know when he’s retiring, and even if he did, he wouldn’t tell THR or anyone else. He’ll “feel it inside” himself and walk away. It took MJ three retirements before it stuck, and everyone pretends like the second one was the last. We’re fairly certainly Bryant will move on after his first one, but we’re not sure where he’ll find an outlet for his obvious pathological competitiveness if he can’t dress for the next Lakers game. He’s just always so damn certain he’ll make that next basket.