NBA fans should pay close attention to Kobe Bryant this season, as it truly could be his last, both here in the states or overseas. The legendary Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard is clearly entering into the twilight of his career as the decades of physical abuse have finally caught up with him.
Many have wondered, given his childhood growing up in Italy, if Bryant would return to Europe and play for a season or more overseas once his NBA career is finally over. The thinking is that not only would it allow him to continue playing competitively but that it would also serve as a vehicle for helping grow his brand with Nike.
International appeal is ideal. But at this point, it’s hard to imagine Bryant doesn’t already have plenty of that. Regardless, it doesn’t appear any of this matters to him at this time, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
“What does seem clear, though, is that the oft-floated idea of Kobe playing in, say, Italy for a season after leaving the NBA is not in his thinking at the moment,” Stein wrote. In a brief chat after his recent Dallas visit, Bryant told me that, at this point, he doesn’t have plans to play abroad when he finally sheds the purple and gold, be it after this season or beyond.”
Stein also wrote that Bryant has made it clear he is still not certain about this being his final year.
It certainly seems his body is telling him it’s time to stop. For the first time since he was a teenager, Bryant has failed to score 20 points in seven straight games. Furthermore, he’s spent more time on the inactive list with injuries than he has on the court the past three years.