At 37 years old, with over half his life spent in the NBA, Kobe Bryant is going to tap out soon. We all know that, we just don't know when. Like one of the Black Mamba's passes, it's just going to happen and we're all going to be stunned.
We did learn one new thing about Bryant's retirement plans on Monday though: When he finally calls it quits, he'll do it as a Laker.
"A lot of players want to go to different teams or contend to win championships," he told Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears. "I'm a Laker, man. I'm a Laker for better or worse."
"Dude, I bleed purple and gold," he added.
If this seems like it was already a foregone conclusion, it shouldn't. None other than Phil Jackson recently said that he expects Bryant to play next season in another team's uniform.
Even though Bryant squashed that, there is one thing that might push him into the arms of another franchise and it's money. His contract with the Lakers ends after this season and the team is unlikely to bring him back at anything near the $23.5 million he's making now. Of course, he could always take a pay cut, but that seems unlikely. Not that he's greedy, but he's definitely proud, and it'll be a cold day in El Segundo before Bryant signs a contract that pays him less than Robin Lopez.
Of course, he could always retire if the Lakers choose to not bring him back after his 20th season. But few think that's going to happen. Even at a shadow of his former self, Bryant's still got an NBA caliber game. Just ask him.
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