ESPN Los Angeles' Baxter Holmes reported on June 28 it is still unclear whether Los Angeles Lakers superstar guard Kobe Bryant will play beyond the 2015-16 NBA season.
Los Angeles Lakers superstar guard Kobe Bryant is still uncertain about his retirement plans from the NBA.
According to a June 28 update from ESPN Los Angeles' Baxter Holmes, Bryant is still unsure if he will play beyond the 2015-16 NBA season, where he will be paid a league-high $25 million.
Bryant made his plans known to ESPN's Jemele Hill at the BET Experience at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles last Saturday, per Holmes. Hill started off by asking Bryant if next season will be his last. Bryant then says he will use 2015-16 as a gauge if he will play beyond it or not:
"It might be.
"You gotta retire sometime, I'm not Benjamin Button, man.
"At the end of the season, if I feel like going through this again and doing it all over again, I will. If I feel like I don't, I won't. I won't make a big deal about it or whatever. I'll be ready to move on. I'll be ready to do something else.
"I'll be ready to take on that challenge and try to show athletes, listen, we are more than this. I think that's the challenge that I'm ready to take on, too. It's like, we can do more than play basketball.
"We can do more than simply sit here and be puppets for brands and for an industry and this, that and the other. We can build our own s--t. When that time comes, I'll be ready to do that."
Hill then asks Bryant what he will do once his playing days are up, per ESPN Los Angeles:
"Work. I love the concept of storytelling. I love inspiring. I love trying to help people reach their full potential...I think there's a myriad of of businesses where storytelling can then connect to because it's all centered around that...It's all storytelling."
Bryant's latest statements come just a little more than a month after he reportedly told Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak the 2015-16 NBA season will be his last, per a May 23 update from Holmes.
Back then, Kupchak told SiriusXM NBA Radio (via ESPN Los Angeles) Bryant came up to him to tell him his upcoming 20th NBA season -- all with the Lakers -- will be his last:
"He has indicated to me that this is it.
"I think first and foremost, he's on the last year of a deal. There have been no discussions about anything going forward. I don't think there will be.
"A year from now, if there's something different to discuss, then it will be discussed then. I talk to him from time to time...and he is recovering. He's running.
"He's getting movement and strength in the shoulder. We expect a full recovery, but yeah he's much closer to the end than to the beginning."
Because of the uncertainty of Bryant's status, Kupchak told SiriusXM NBA Radio he's not sure about organizing a farewell tour for the Lakers legend next season, per Holmes:
"It's kind of up to the player, if they want to do something like that. And it also may take away some options a year from now and put a player in an awkward position, but he will be recognized appropriately with great gratitude when it is time."
In another development, Bryant recently forgave Lakers 2015 first-round draft pick Larry Nance, Jr. for a 2012 tweet which labeled Bryant a "rapist."
Holmes uploaded Nance, Jr.'s controversial tweet on June 25, the day the Lakers drafted him 27th overall in the 2015 NBA draft:
According to For The Win's Nick Schwartz, Nance, Jr. deleted the tweet in the aftermath of last Thursday's draft. Schwartz then refers to a separate tweet from Holmes saying Bryant has forgiven Nance, Jr. and said the issue is now "water under the bridge":
In Dec. 2003, a then 25-year-old Bryant was charged with sexual assault after he had an encounter with a female hotel employee at a ski resort in Eagle, Co. Bryant claimed his innocence and said it was consensual, per CNN.
Bryant has averaged 25.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 1,280 career regular-season games for the Los Angeles Lakers, per ESPN stats.
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