Kobe Bryant began his NBA career as a 17-year old drafted with the 13th overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers. At the time, he was the youngest player to ever sign an NBA contract. 19 years later, after spending more than half of his life playing for the Lakers, Bryant is one of the league's oldest active players. Father Time has begun to finally make noticeable headway in his lengthy battle with Bryant, who is now one of the league's least efficient players on one of its worst teams.
There won't be any rocking chairs, but all of this has reinforced the idea that Bryant's 20th season in the league will be his swan song. Kobe confirmed as much in an appearance on the weekly radio show of his Olympic coach, Mike Krzyzewski. As transcribed by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, Bryant told Krzyzewski "if something changes I'll come back and play next season. If something doesn't change, this is it for me."
The changes Bryant is referencing likely refer to the pipe-dream of the Lakers putting together a championship contending roster for next season, but this quote is unsurprising given how Kobe openly spoke about how he wanted to be remembered during the Lakers' recent East coast road trip. With 47,017 minutes on his odometer and a sore back that left him barely able to walk to his car after driving the Lakers' to a win over the Detroit Pistons, the end is a lot closer than the beginning for Bryant. Enjoy him while you can.