After that, it’s anybody’s guess.
The five-time champion has raised the idea of retirement when his contract is up following the 2013-14 season multiple times, while at the same time leaving the door open for him to continue playing if he so chooses.
“It’s not like it’s a big revelation,” he explained after Tuesday’s practice session. “I’ve been saying that for the last two years now. It’s my 17th season coming up and I’ve been fortunate enough to play for so long … there’s a lot of basketball to be played.”
Bryant was amused at the focus on what may or may not happen two years from now, which certainly isn’t where he or the team is concentrating, regardless of how many times he’s asked about it.
“You (media members) asked me a million questions about what’s going to happen (two) years from now,” he said with a smirk. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in two hours.”
Bryant capped his previous two hours of practicing by uncorking back-to-back massive dunks through traffic to help his team win a 5-on-5 scrimmage, subsequently explaining that he hasn’t felt this good physically since 2006.
So, yes, Bryant knows we’re all (rightfully) interested, but there’s absolutely no way he can know today, Oct. 9, 2012, how he’s going to feel on Oct. 9, 2014, either mentally or physically. We’d be better off trying to enjoy watching one of the NBA’s best ever play this season than trying to read his future mind.
“I said when I was 17 that by 35 I’d be done, so it’s nothing new,” he concluded. “(Retirement) will come. It’s inevitable. I’m not going to play 25 years.”
Bryant has already played the 19th most regular season minutes of any player in the game’s history (42,377) and ranks second behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in playoff minutes (8,641), but let’s try to remember that he’s not stopping today.
There’s a lot of Kobe left to see.