Kobe Bryant can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Although he’s still playing at a high level, he’s 34 years old and has played over 50,000 minutes of NBA basketball.
It would be a dream situation to go out on top with a championship, but it’s starting to appear as if turmoil and mediocrity are becoming the norm for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant’s contract will keep him with the Lakers through the 2013-14 season. After that, it’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll accept the kind of discount contract that Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett recently signed.
The real question is whether Bryant will want to stick around. This year is going to be absolutely pivotal for the future of the Lakers. It’s been shoved under the rug a bit, but don’t forget that Dwight Howard will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2012-13 season.
It will take a very attractive situation to get him to leave—unless the Lakers’ situation continues to be so ugly. They’ve already suffered an injury to 38-year-old Steve Nash and started the season with just one win in 13 combined preseason and regular-season games.
Howard has now watched two coaches get fired in the span of six months and is getting a taste of what Bryant and his “death stare” are all about.
It would be a real shame to watch Bryant retire after a couple of years of fighting to get into the playoffs, only to get embarrassed.
When the great Michael Jordan retired (for the second time), he did it at the pinnacle of the sport. He was coming off of three consecutive championships, and at age 35, he decided it was time to step away with a great legacy.
Then, he came back (again).
His time with the Washington Wizards was extremely impressive for the average NBA player. He averaged 22.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game. The problem was, it took him 22.1 shots to do it, and he shot just 41.6 percent from the field and 18.9 percent from the three-point line.
The Wizards were 26-21 at one point and then went into the tank. They ended the 2001-02 season with a record of 37-45 and missed the playoffs by a full five games. The 2002-03 season was the same for the team at 37-45 and five games out of the playoffs, but Jordan was much worse, even coming off of the bench for 15 games.
Nobody wants to see Bryant tarnish his legacy. It’s difficult to walk away for any athlete, especially one with the impressive resume of Bryant. We want to remember him as a champion, walking away with his arms in the air—not missing the playoffs, with his head hanging low.
Piece Written By HoopsHabit and Originally Posted At Bleacher Report
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