After 19 illustrious years in the NBA, it is time for Kobe Bryant to hang it up and retire.
Bryant’s last three seasons in the league have ended prematurely thanks to injuries. It may be no coincidence that his body is starting to break down after playing professionally since he was 18. The wear and tear on the 36-year-old is difficult to ignore, especially after only playing an estimated 41 games out of a possible 164 since the 2013-2014 season.
Only four players in the history of the NBA averaged above 15 points per game when they were 37 years old or older: Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and John Havlicek.
Bryant definitely belongs with that group because he’s played at total of 46,774 minutes to date, which is more mileage than any of the athletes listed above.
It’s important to note that Bryant also skipped college and entered the NBA straight out of high school. This means more time was spent training and maintaining as a professional athlete than most players. There are only two players before Bryant to directly come out of high school and make it past age 37 in the NBA.
Kevin Garnett, elected to 15 All-Star games, is still active but is averaging a measly 6.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game since he turned 37.
Three-time MVP Moses Malone played for three different teams in three seasons since turning 37 and mustered 4.7 points per game to go along with a .414 field goal percentage.
Bryant has done an incredible job of keeping his body in peak condition but everyone succumbs to Father Time.
If Bryant is going to return to basketball, he should want to do so at a dominant level.
Despite playing in Los Angeles, Bryant’s Hollywood ending to a storied career is unlikely.
The Lakers currently have one of the worst records in the league and are looking to rebuild for the future, as opposed to contending for the championship. It is unfortunate that this future Hall of Famer may end up rotting away in a mediocre basketball team.
Bryant should be proud of his achievements as there is not much for him to chase. The all-time points record is nearly 6,000 points away which would require 3-4 seasons of elite scoring production. He passed Jordan on that list earlier this year but finishing No. 1 is doubtful.
One of the biggest criticisms on his career was that he was unable to lead a championship team without the help of Shaquille O’Neal but he rattled off back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, earning two Finals MVP awards in the process.
He is one of 10 players to win multiple in NBA history.
Throughout his career, Bryant has proven his critics wrong, but now there are too many obstacles in his way.
Bryant should retire before the world sees a once-dominant athlete lose all of his invincibility.