“Will he or won’t he?” Kobe retirement pieces will be written all season or until he definitively comes out and says for certain either way. Consider this your latest installment. If you don’t want to read it, either skip to the bottom or go read about D’Angelo Russell.
I have long been of the mind that Kobe will retire at the end of the season. My logic is pretty simple and can best be summed up by something I wrote this past August:
While he’s always talked about loving the work (and he does that in this interview as well), he’s also begun to actually discuss it like it is work. The long hours, the rehabs, the time spent in the gym and the weight room, I get the sense it is evolving for him.
The shift might be subtle and there is a chance I am overplaying this, but my feeling is that it’s not necessarily who he is as much as it is what he does, now. I’m not in his head, of course, but the nature in which he speaks about the effort required of him to simply maintain his current level (or, in the case of rehabbing, to get back to where he was) isn’t the same as when he was younger and these discussions still centered on getting better and adding something new to keep him on top.
I cannot say how this might translate into any decision after this upcoming season concludes, but as Kobe notes, at some point he will not want to put in the work anymore. Even discussing the work in these terms makes me feel like we are close to that point.
Those are my words, though. In a recent sit-down with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Kobe gave his strongest words yet on the topic:
Kobe told Coach K on SiriusXM that "if something changes 'll come back and play next season. If something doesn't change this is it for me."
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) November 19, 2015
If I’m being honest, I don’t see much changing.
Kobe’s already dealing with the physical toll of playing in his 20th year. After missing two games with a sore back, Kobe played 37 minutes in a win over Pistons and promptly told reporters his back stiffened up, his legs were sore, and he was not looking forward to having to walk back to his car. He did not play the following night.
Also, the Lakers are likely to remain a not very good team. If the Lakers’ win total doesn’t exceed the 20’s again, the likelihood of Kobe wanting to return are slim. Add to that the team very likely asking him to take a step back in role and in compensation and those odds decrease further.
Sure, I could see Kobe saying he’s willing to come back if the Lakers hit multiple home runs in free agency next July, but if that is the level of change needed to facilitate him holding off on retiring, that is a very long shot. Nothing is impossible, of course, but…let’s also be realistic.
This, then, is another reminder to try and enjoy Kobe as much as you can while you can. Because the odds of him returning next year are low. Don’t take my word for it, take his.
Joe Houston says
Kobe, the greatest Laker of all time. Your legacy is set in stone. Thank you for the seasons. You were worth way more than the price of admission.
David Aguilar says
Yes thank you Kobe…please let this be your last season…and MAGIC is greatest laker of all time! same amount of championships. In half the time!!!
Kobe clearly can’t play a NBA schedule anymore, and hasn’t been able to for at least the last couple years. To be fair the NBA schedule is really rough for a high impact sport that basically depletes muscle glycogen, and causes signficant microtears in ligaments–just to send people back out the next night sometimes. The 5 games in a week, weeks are just brutal, plus the crazy amount of travel this entails. Kobe shouldn’t even begin to leave any window open, just finish out this year and call it.
Kobe is definitely one of the greatest Lakers of all time, but man there has been some amazing Laker players. Magic Johnson is my favorite hands down, although to be fair many of the Lakers greats were truly amazing for at least a few years of their career. And this is still a team sport, so championships alone can’t be the measure of a individual player in my book. Lebron dragging his team to the finals time and time again is pretty impressive to me, despite losing a bunch of championships–and perhaps losing another one this year as well?
– Kobe, I second your motion.
– Kob, 3rd best Laker all time behind Magic & Kareem in my book. Three of the worst seasons in Laker histor happening on his watch, can’t be ignored. Nor his record for most missed fg all time.
“If something doesn’t chage”…. i.e, fire Byron Scott.
Baylor Fan says
Kobe will step down when his body tells him it is time. Right now it is screaming “no mas”.
I love Kobe, always have, through thick and thin.
However now it’s simply sad.
Like an old athlete doing a show in Vegas.
I can recall old boxers doing the same, giving the fans tears with nostalgic scenes of the old days as they shadowed boxed or fought another old geezer.
I would expect someone of his dignity, to go out with pride and leave us with memories of his prime days, not this.
No, not this.
I think for Kobe to continue on he would need to take a lesser role (fewer minutes) and still be relevant (as in efficient). With the minutes he is being given and how he is playing I would be surprised if he didn’t retire.
david h says
darius: it’s almost prophetic: If Something Doesn’t Change, This is it For Me”
With kobe’s gladiator mentality; coupled with scott’s old school philosophy, it’s just a matter of time before kobe will once again be on the IR. Then the thing that changes come to fruition. Probable, sooner than later this year; retirement will be eminent. As a consequence and problematic for the younger players and coach scott; should take on a different look and outlook for laker nation.
Patrick Lanigan says
Darius was clearly right in August. Kobe’s demeanor on and off the floor is a lot more similar to a typical NBA player than it is to the maniacal competitor who thrived on the work and pain needed to be great.
Simply put, he seems mortal now, and a mortal guy pushing 40 who has a nine figure net worth doesn’t subject himself to the mental and physical rigors of an NBA season–much less one that will end in the lottery.
If by some miracle the Lakers saw a talent infusion this summer that made them a legitimate title contender, then I could see him wanting to return. Of course, that means he isn’t coming back.
Snarky George says
Interesting article, by Tom Haberstroh, about the changing field of NBA coaching. FYI, the Lakers employee the yesteryear’s model for a head coach.
Here’s a telling quote:
Today, the job qualification list looks much different as players rise up in the information age. It’s not enough to growl, “I played this game and this is how it’s done.” And if you start a sentence with “back in my day,” you might as well be speaking through a dusty phonograph.
Here’s the link:
Kobe: Based on what has been going on, I took this Kobe quote as a positive. He is still leaving the door open. 21 + 22 are still possible !
Kev: “doing a show in Vegas.” Yea – well – the same could be said for the Lakers who at one point in time were the prime act on the Strip and now we are a lounge act in downtown Vegas.
BCS: I rate KB as the Greatest Laker (which is even more subjective than the greatest ever in the NBA). Ironically I have KB (#3) behind KAJ (#2) on the all time list (MJ=#1), I can live with Magic over KB however – he was my fav before KB came along and put up a double teamed, turnaround, fadeaway when I was courtside, and what can I say – he became the fav. You almost count KB’s longevity against him which is not right. Longevity is part of greatness.
tankyou: “losing a bunch of championships” It is not just losing a championship, it is winning a conference title. For example what is better? 17 NBA titles and 20 conference championships, or 16 titles and 31 conference championships. Not even close. Can you imagine if an NFL team could say they had been to 31 Super Bowls? We do not market this properly. Among other things : )
Its just sad. Kobe deserves better team mates as he wraps up his career. The FO completely fumbled the last three years. I can’t think of a recent All Timer that has as many losses in their final chapter as Kobe does. There’s nothing else you can say other than Jim utterly blew this.
Kobe should have been given a percentage of the company instead of the crazy extension. That would have created significantly more cap space and made it easier to sign multiple free agents, which is what Jim pinned the future of the franchise on in the first place.
One thing about the Lakers being horrible is that there’s no hiding how far we’ve fallen across multiple measurements as a franchise. If Jeanie truly is the leader she makes herself out to be then her job is clear. At some point she’s going to have to act – this mess isn’t going away by itself.
It would be best for both the franchise and Kobe if Kobe retires at the end of this year. I think that he knows this and that he’s only damaging his own legacy and his laker family by continuing. There is no more 1-2 yrs. For the sake and love of the Lakers and Kobe, the great laker that he is, some of you guys need to let the man retire. If you love him and the team, let them go. Just let go Robert. Set it free!
Ano: I have said many times. I was against the extension and even spoke about using the A-bomb on Kobe before his last contract was up. Spending $48 million on him while he was injured was unforgivable. That said – I love Kobe and rooting for him is almost the only joy I get out of the Lakers these days. I have pleaded with the FO to do many things differently, from coaching selections, to the way we handled the Dwight saga, to the wasting of draft picks on players who we kept for 1-2 years, to not getting anything for Pau and others, and most recently to drafting Russell over Okafor. I made all these views clear at the time these moves were made. I made my first post on this board right after the VETO, but it was not the VETO that caused me to become vocal. It was the FO handling of LO after the fact – so add that to the list. Kobe is the only thing that keeps me going. I was sitting right behind Byron when Kobe moved by MJ in Minny. I have been to other games where I have literally watched Byron and Kobe diagram plays on Byron’s board. People who are screaming that this will all be well when Kobe retires and Byron gets fired are Laker fans too, they are just not in agreement with this Laker fan. The virus our franchise has is strong and pervasive, and it starts at the top. It can’t be treated – it needs to be extracted. Until that occurs I will root for Kobe as he is becoming the only thing left that reminds me of “what was”. I wish I had a pathway to what is “to be” but I do not see that plan. Perhaps I just am not looking in the right places or perhaps it just does not exist. All I know is if Kobe retires at the end of 2016, then the 2016 – 2017 season is going to be a very painful Laker experience for me. I will get through it though. I have to. I am a Laker for life !!!
Clay Bertrand says
Robert, you were a Laker fan before Kobe and you will be one when he moves on to start doing stupid Body Armor commercials. The TEAM is always bigger than any one player. I don’t know what is/was worse: Magic leaving in his prime with HIV or Kobe staying until his body forced him out. But we turned the page after Magic and we will turn the page after Kobe too.
Personally, I love the team. I love The Lakers. I’ve had favorite players but none ever rise above the Team for me. I didn’t revel in Shaq’s 61 or in Kobe’s 81 too much because they were unnecessary individual show off games. I’m just not one for individual over the team accomplishments.
The league is a new world now with Billionaire owners and Stat crunching analytic departments. We gotta compete in this world now. When we finally get over the picks we traded away to keep Kobe’s window for rings from closing, we will be alright.
We had Rory Sparrow and Lloyd Daniels playing PG in the mid 90s!!!! This too shall pass.
Keep the faith Robert!!!!!!!!!!
@Robert….I feel you man!! I’ve been a fan of pro basketball in general and the Lakers in particular for a long, long time. Kobe is the most exciting and passionate player I’ve ever seen. I’m going to miss him bad.
Something to look forward to: Ben Simmons went for 23 pts and 16 boards tonight. He would look good in the Lakers frontcourt.
I say keep losing…
If there is one thing the FO has tried to do over the past few years is put a good team around Kobe with the Veto, Dwight, Nash, all the free agent pursuits of the past couple of years. They mortgaged the future to do it to make one last all or nothing bet. They lost, and here we are.
It’s hard to feel bad for Kobe who was since the 09-10 season and still is the highest paid player in the NBA. Who knows how the extension discussions went, but I kinda doubt that management would have refused if Kobe said he wanted to take less money so that they could sign other FAs as other notable players have done.
Kobe is obviously very competitive. It’s why he’s of the best ever and why he has multiple rings. So it wouldn’t surprise me if he looks at salary as another measure of who is best. Still the FO signed the contract, which I view as part of the all or nothing bet, but I don’t think Kobe helped himself.
Beyond the cap constraints the extension created, I feel the amount signaled to other potential star FAs that Kobe would still be the alpha dog if they signed on, and, to me Kobe’s shot attempts and shot selection over past few years are a reflection of that mentality. Interestingly the Detroit game is the first game where I felt like Kobe was willing to let someone else lead (in spite of his 19 shot attempts).
Oh well, regardless of what I think, we are where we are, which is facing a complete rebuild only we are starting with a few promising young players. The sooner the FO accepts this, the sooner we will return to respectability.
Changing the subject a bit, here’s a nice article on Jordan Clarkson, his improvement over last year, areas for improvement, and the reality that he is probably now the Lakers’ best player. It’s a good article, well-researched by Michael Pina of Bleacher Report. Enjoy:
Whether we Kobe ‘fanatics’ want to admit it or not the Kobe we knew retired at the freethrow line against the Warriors. Prior to that injury he was primed to play long enough for the Lakers to find someone to which he could pass the Lakers legacy. Which was one reason why I was furious with Damtoni for his overuse of Kobe which truncated my viewership of Kobe’s final productive years.
The greats rarely get to leave their game of choice on their own terms, and I guess Kobe will be in that category sooner rather than later.
Nice read about Jordan. Even better when you realize that he hasn’t played a full season in terms of number of games.
Hey Chris! Your not Curry. Great 42 minute guy. But remain a choke last 6 in your career.
Clips again 1st round and thud.
Remember when Lakers played meaninful games?
Ya me either. Thanks Jimbo.
If only we can grab luke walton as coach. 😉
Speculation for Kobe beyond this year is continuing a fantasy since his season ending achilles tendon injury That was when the Kobe that we knew left the building–never to return. Even that Kobe, before the achilles, was already showing his age.
Now, each game he plays is a new embarrassment–and for what? Another Laker loss.
The only bright spot is the accolades from his fans all over the league–ready just to say goodbye. Thrilled when he makes a shot–or makes a play. Jeanie’s farewell tour is all he’s getting–and it may not be worth all the pain and humiliation.
To me, the first question is how he finishes the season. For his sake I’d hope the answer would be to just walk away ASAP. The more likely answer is that he will continue to play a limited number of games with more and more sharply reduced minutes–sort of a fade away.
I would lose every game in an effort to get Simmons. He’s not Lebron but he’s the closest thing to him in quite awhile. He plays a position of need, SF. He would be the #1 option on the floor and take the pressure off the rest of the kids. Randle as a second option with Clarkson as a third option and Russell just distributing the ball would be a fantastic foundation.
Jim, you’ve designed the team that is 80% capable of finishing with the most losses this season. Sell off Williams/Young and play the kids — that combination will get us a coin flip’s chance of getting Simmons. Mark my words he’s a franchise changer.
If only we can grab luke walton as coach.
Umm…well, the Lakers need a coach don’t they?
The hated Celtics are primed to rule the East and possibly the NBA:
Of course Lakers FO supporters say it was impossible to trade DHoward or Pau for anything helpful. Yet, Boston was able to fleece the Nets for past their prime pieces. Face it, our FO has done very little right since the Veto.
DHoward left the Lakers the first week of July, 2013. The Celtics Nets trade took place the very next week. I wonder if the Lakers had any clue that the new Nets owner was hell bent on making a splash and was willing to mortgage his team’s future to do so.
Foolishness, hubris or incompetence — whatever you choose to call it the Lakers FO made a monumental miscalculation regarding their ability to let a prime asset walk for nothing and assume that they could simply replace it via free agency.
Again, this has nothing to do with how really valuable Howard is as a player now. He’s a coach killing underachiever. However, the point is Howard had a fantastic perceived value at the time and the Lakers didn’t cash it in.
Kevin McHale may be a nice replacement for Byron. Hall of fame PF. Clarkson could benefit from his tutelage.
Clay Bertrand says
Anonymous, Regarding Kevin McHale, The Lakers are NOT accepting any Former Celtic refugees……………
Was watching some clips of Ben Simmons last night and am quite impress with him. I agree with Keith. He’s definitely going to be an impact player on the Lebron/Durant level. I started out this season hoping for development win or lose, and definitely not wanting to tank another season. After watching how this season is playing out and seeing that there’s a pretty good chance that Bryon Scott is not going to be fired any time soon or until the end of the season, I am now re-evaluating my stance on tanking for Ben. He is that awesome. He’s being described as a kid with the experience and maturity of a 10yr vet and his game is awesome from what I’ve seen. So yeah, still conflicted, but if anyone is worth tanking for, it’s him. We would of course need to lose every single game and set a new Laker record. But at least we would have a chance to add another BS to the team who can save us from the other BS.
It would definitely set us up for the next decade. He is going to be superstar and would be a great replacement for Kobe. The Lakers would have a great nucleus of players, of home grown kids working towards developing instead of having to chase players like Durant (dealing with more injuries each year and aging) or taking risks with one year rentals of impact free agents who may or may not have the same loyalties to the team.
Still conflicted, but the idea is intriquing.
Robert – I just want to point out that shooting a contested turnaround fade-away from 20 feet and beyond over 2 defenders is not a good shot. It’s a shot with an extremely high level of difficulty. That being said, it’s incredible how Kobe made those shots a few seasons ago with regularity. And it seemed like the bigger the moment, the more accurate he became with those crazy shots. You need a lot of elevation, body control and proper wrist-snap to execute that. I’m not surprised Kobe’s accuracy on those shots has declined, because he doesn’t have as much lift anymore. Personally, I think Kobe can still win games if played properly. He has to come off the bench and play around 18 minutes to keep fresh and hope the younger guys can keep the game close. Then in the last 4 minutes, put fresh Kobe in and feed him in the mid-post between 15 to 18 feet. He’ll be accurate on those fade-away jumpers from that range when he’s not tired. And he can create space to get that shot up against anyone.
14.1 – so you’re saying tank for Simmons, right? Maybe that’s Mitch’s plan…
Yeah. I guess so. Blasphemy. I know. It would be cheaper than paying for therapy having to make sense of Bryon Scott, his rotations, substitutions, and game strategies, etc. I wouldn’t have to get upset and scream at the tv and be pissed all the time. I can then root for Bryon to continue to do what he’s currently doing. The way Scott is coaching makes me think that he’s “stealth tanking” anyway. It’s not possible to be that bad of a coach right?
Hmmm….I’m sounding more and more like Aaron. It’s all kind of crazy and tanking is crazy too considering the chances of falling out of the top three even with the worse record. Like I said, still very conflicted but definitely a high reward risk if all goes as plan.
I like that we are back to the Stealth Tank narrative 11 games in. If the Lakers FO is that clever and Machiavellian, then I hope we start seeing evidence of that kind of cunning in areas other than angering the fanbase and engineering losses.
I hate to say it, but when kobe is done. I probably wont care.about the NBA anymore.
The game itself has been terrible since the rule change in my opinion. Players dont care, no battles anymore, only a few players who play hard.
People teaming up to avoid competition, Kobe and KG are.done, Timmy is at the end.
My time is ending also.
The fact that kobe is still able to do some of the stuff he’s doing now show how great he is, with the post fadeways still dropping, and he almost got a triple double, his passing is pretty good, and Defense is better than last year where he looked like he couldn’t keep up with anyone, it’s sad that he has to deal with the lossing every night, but his huge contract didn’t help the team. I remember the argument years back about who should we keep shaq or kobe, the choice to keep kobe was obviously best as we now see.
Wow so boston has the rights to brooklyns pick next year, that could end up as a huge pick
Clarkson is a good combo guard Offense player, but his defense needs alot of work, with this years terrible start and obvious team deficiencies the coach has no choice but to let clarkson play, even great point guards struggle to contain the oppositions guards, the fact that clarkson is crafty enough to score in the nba shows his value, it’s gonna be interesting to see how his new contract pans out