Saying goodbye to Kobe Bryant hasn’t felt right to me as fan during his pronounced farewell tour this season. I appreciate what it means for Kobe to have his final go against the 31 other teams that all felt his wrath at some point.
I am more convinced than I was last year that we’re saying goodbye to Kobe in the NBA, even though you have Wizards head coach Randy Wittman saying things like this after his team faced Bryant just a few weeks ago.
(via Baxter Holmes of ESPN):
“I don’t know why he’s retiring,” Wittman said Sunday after his team’s 101-88 win over Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. “I might ask him to come play for the Wizards next year.”
Kobe looks at complete peace when talking about retirement, but I don’t think we’re saying goodbye to Kobe in basketball. I’m not talking about coaching, commentating, or being in the front office. I’m talking about playing.
Last summer I was really adamant about Kobe considering playing overseas for a year or two and ending his career on an unprecedented standard of glory. One report out of Spain last July suggested that Kobe might consider finishing his career playing alongside Pau Gasol with Barça. A more recent report surfaced that FC Barcelona offered Kobe a chance to play for them in the Euroleague.
Kobe will turn 38 this August. Even if he doesn’t feel like physically recuperating and playing a few more official games abroad, I believe we will see Kobe play again in the future (after all, the guy just dropped 35 points in a game a few days ago). It might be on a trip to China. It might be when he visits the Lakers practice facility and challenges some youngsters to a shooting contest. It might be in a commercial, a random appearance at the Drew League, or anywhere else. A fun alternative from a commercial appeal standpoint would be to have some kind of segment on a Late Night show where contestants can play Kobe in a game of one-on-one. I think he’d be up for it.
Basketball is part of Kobe’s fiber — not just the game itself, but playing the game. We like to speculate what he’ll be doing next. I’ll just be wondering how soon before he instinctively picks up a basketball again.