The Los Angeles Lakers are facing the rest of the season without Kobe Bryant, and rumors now indicate that the situation may become permanent.
Bryant was ruled out for the remainder of the season after tearing his rotator cuff. The 36-year-old guard was still able to carry the team on his back this season when healthy, but this is now the second time in the past two seasons that he has suffered devastating injuries, leading to rumors that he may just retire for good.
As USA Today noted, Kobe Bryant appeared to already be thinking about retirement, even before the injury:
A week before the right-handed Bryant was sinking left-handed jumpshots against the New Orleans Pelicans because of the injury that had yet to be diagnosed, he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times after a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers that the thoughts of retirement after this season were already creeping into his mind. Such admissions have become more common in this later stage of Bryant’s days, the man with the legendary edge and ego becoming open and honest about himself in ways we never saw in his younger years.
The Lakers had already been wary of Bryant’s health, planning to use him sparingly this season in an attempt to save his health for the stretch run. But the team never came close to contention anyway, and Bryant showed signs of slowing.
“He would go in three- or four-game stretches where I was playing him heavy minutes, (and) for three or four days his body was just worn out,” coach Byron Scott said on January 14. “So I had to learn on the go as well. It was on me. Three or four minutes (extra) per game for 27 games is a lot. I told him, I said, ‘That’s my fault.'”
If the rumors do come true and Kobe Bryant does decide to retire, he could have his post Los Angeles Lakers career lined up already. There are reports that TNT is interested in bringing Kobe to their studio show if Charles Barkley does not renew his contract.