Kobe Bryant isn’t signed beyond the 2013-14 NBA season, but that shouldn’t make Los Angeles Lakers fans believe that the five-time champion and future Hall of Famer won’t retire with the only franchise he’s ever played for.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, team general manager Mitch Kupchak said that “Kobe’s made it clear that he intends to retire [as a Laker] and we feel same way.”
This is good news for Lakers supporters after Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that “The Lakers haven’t opened contract negotiations with Bryant, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, taking a wait-and-see approach as he recovers from his injury.”
We have seen other NBA stars build incredible resumes with one team and finish their careers with a second club. Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon are two recent examples.
Similar to Jordan, Bryant is still one of the league’s best players in his mid-thirties. His 27.3 points per game average ranked third among all players last season, one spot ahead of Miami Heat superstar forward LeBron James.
Before he maintains his elite level of performance, Bryant must recover from a torn Achilles injury suffered in last year’s playoffs. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, Kupchak said on Wednesday that “there is no timeline” for Bryant in his journey back to the Lakers’ lineup.
It seems, at least right now, that Bryant won’t be among the Lakers’ starting five when they open the regular season on Oct. 29 against the Clippers.
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