The Lakers are finally winning and making a genuine playoff push – really, does anyone believe they won’t grab one of those last Western Conference spots by now? That playoff push is making Kobe Bryant look prophetic, and given that plus his own stellar play lately, he’s in a good mood. Good enough to laugh it up with Jimmy Kimmel, in fact. Kobe paid a visit to Kimmel’s show last night, and among the topics the two touched on were Kobe’s future playing the game. Kobe said he’ll never play for anyone but the Lakers. That, we fully believe. He also said his retirement is coming “soon.” He’s said things like this before… but even so, we’re a little more skeptical of that claim. It comes at the 2:50 mark below:
It’s not that we think Kobe’s lying when he says that. He’s in the middle of a tough season… one he told Kimmel has been tougher on him physically than any other season of his 17-year career. Retirement sounds pretty nice right about now, we’d wager. But what happens when the offseason comes around, when he gets some time away from the game – and time to think how much better he still is than almost anyone playing it? What happens when he thinks about how close he is to breaking Kareem’s scoring record?
Maybe Kobe will walk away after next season, and maybe it’ll be for good. If he does, more power to him. You don’t often see players retire near the top of their game, and Kobe’s still an elite player. But what makes him so elite is his unreal competitive drive. As Michael Jordan can tell you, you can’t just turn that off. Kobe and Jordan aren’t the same person, but Jordan wouldn’t admire Kobe like he does if the two didn’t have such pronounced similarities as competitors. And that drive is going to make it very difficult for Kobe to say he’s had enough of basketball when he can still dominate.
There was also a good deal more to the Kimmel-Kobe interview than what you saw above. Below is Part 1, featuring Kobe’s entrance and unique choice in footwear:
And here’s part 2, in which the vital subject of Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea is addressed. (Don’t expect to see Kobe go on any diplomatic mission anytime soon.) Oh, and also Kimmel rags on Kobe about not passing. It all looked like fun and games at the time… ntil we learned that Jimmy Kimmel is now dead. R.I.P., Jimmy. Do not cross the Mamba. (ed. note: Jimmy Kimmel is not dead.)