Los Angeles Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant turned 36 on Saturday. While Bryant’s regarded as a basketball machine, Father Time waits for no one and Kobe’s career is coming to a close soon.
Bryant gave us a timeline of just how soon that time will come in a profile for Sports Illustrated, telling writer Chris Ballard that his plan is to retire following the 2015-16 NBA season.
Bryant signed a $48.5 million, two-year deal. The contract, widely derided as the worst in the game, makes Bryant nearly impossible to move, even were the Lakers to try. Asked about Kobe’s value on the market, one GM answers definitively: “Zero. Look at that number. Who takes him?”
This is by design, of course. It ensures that Bryant accomplishes something very few pro athletes have: playing an entire career with one team. Bryant’s plan is to retire in two years, though he says he reserves the right to change his mind.
It will be a sad day for all NBA fans when Bryant finally hangs ‘em up. He is regarded as one of the 10 greatest players of all time and embodies basically all that the average sports fans look for an athlete with his competitive spirit and the intensity he plays with.
The question about Bryant now is if he can do any more winning during his final two years in the NBA. The Lakers won just 27 games this past season. While Los Angeles should be a better team this year with Bryant healthy, earning a playoff berth seems unlikely unless Kobe can return to elite form.
Regardless of what happens from here on out, Kobe will end his career as one of the greatest winners in league history with five NBA championships already under his belt.