Words by Phlip
I have made a point of avoiding this conversation for three years now. With the latest setback, it seems that it has come time to face it…
We’re at the end of life cycle when it comes to the career of one Kobe “Bean” Bryant. Having broken a shoulder with minor rotator cuff damage almost 12 years ago and the fact that I can STILL tell that shoulder has been compromised, I know what he is feeling right now. As a volume shooter, he will need a minor miracle to be as productive as he once was.
So here we have it… 5 reasons Kobe shouldn’t feel bad about hanging them up.
5 – Greatness.
For people between the ages of 25-40something, we all grew up idolizing Michael Jordan. Being “The Next Jordan” has damned what WOULD have been hall-of-fame careers for Grant Hill and Vince Carter and greatly hindered those of several others who might have at least been strong all-stars.
Kobe has taken, been hated for, and worn proudly that albatross. If anyone has attained anything NEAR the success of Michael while emulating (as every wing player has since the 80s), then Kobe has come closest to the clone. Better to leave as close in memory to the glory days than to ruin your own life trying to regain them.
4 – Respect.
See above. Only casual fans hate Kobe for what he has done. Hell, even Jordan himself has praised the guy’s work at his craft. Everyone in the league has him created as a killer who wants nothing more than to be the best at what he does. Realistically, he has been lavished with all the accolades both professionally and critically from his peers. Proving that he can come back from injuries that end careers and still average 25 a game is not necessary.
3 – Ego.
Remember when Jordan played for the Wizards at 40 and spent the most of the 4th quarters on the bench with enough ice on his knees to cool the drinks at my (July) birthday party? NO ONE wanted to see that, probably not even Jordan himself. Likewise, those of us who are appreciators of Kobe’s work do not want to see him end every of his final 4 seasons with a new debilitating injury. Sometimes you want to see your heroes go out on top, not futilly chasing after it.
2 – Dues paid.
Having been involved in professional sports since the Lakers picked him up in a prearranged draft day trade with the original Charlotte Hornets two months shy of his 18th birthday, Lakers Basketball is literally the only thing he knows.
What we know is that the faces of the franchise — even the kinds that don’t PLAY basketball — are kept around when they’re finished. I can almost assuredly see a position in the organization in some capacity, probably coaching, for him soon after his playing days have ended. If his concerns are that he won’t know what to do with all of his newfound time after he hangs em up, he need not worry one little bit. Nike continues to pay their athletes after retirement even when they’re not Michael Jordan as well.
1 – This one is personal.
When my mind went from not wanting kids at all to conceding to no more than two, I added a caveat that they would all need to be born by a time where I could trust my joints and ligaments to play with them in a manner that I recall being desirable back in my own childrenhood. At 35, I am done having kids.
At 36, Kobe has to have the body wear of someone twice our age. Arthritic hands/fingers, oft-repaired knees, repaired Achilles, and now a torn rotator cuff. All I can say is that it is a VERY good thing that he has girls and that they’re now at the age where they will want to do low-impact girly stuff, because he will be minimal in what he can offer physically to the “playing with the kids” thing. Sure, he can salvage the last year or two he has left of it to say he has a puncher’s chance just in case they girls want to play ball too.
Of course, there is ample enough reason for him to sweat out that one last year.
1 – A two and a five, folowed by SIX zeroes… Kobe is one of the few players smart enough with his money to take his whole paycheck early in the season and then manage to not fuck it off. The Lakers have already earmarked this money to belong to him and planned for such. It makes little sense for him to not take what he has agreed to, considering the billions the franchise has made off of his work. Get the surgery, then rehab, show up to training camp, give it a good ol try next season and avoid overdoing it (again) and then ride off into the sunset like a boss.
Words by Phlip