The timing of Kobe Bryant's announcement last Sunday that he would retire at the end of the season was somewhat surprising, mainly because Bryant has repeatedly said he does not want a farewell tour. However surprising that was for fans and those who cover the team, however, it was much less surprising than when Lakers head coach Byron Scott received the news.
Scott told Baxter Holmes of ESPN in an interview that Bryant surprised him with news of his impending retirement in the middle of a game. According to Scott, after he apologized to Bryant for playing him too many minutes while subbing him out for a rest in the third quarter of the Lakers' recent loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Kobe told him "That's good, coach. That's all right. I'm going to announce my retirement after the game."
While that isn't the worst time one can think of to have told Scott, it definitely does not make the top ten best times either. I guess when you know you're done, you know. Scott's reaction was understandably one of shock:
"I said, 'What?!'" Scott recalled. "That was the shock part. I was in that state for the rest of the game. Even when I was watching him play [and] I was watching him running up and down, I'm going, 'Did he just tell me [that]?'"
Scott said he had no idea Bryant was going to give him that news, much less at that time.
"I told him the next day, 'You know you shocked the s--- out of me when you told me that,'" Scott said. "He just started laughing. I said, 'You really did.' He said, 'I know. I could see it on your face.'"
What was most striking to Scott was Bryant's demeanor in the moment.
"It was so casual. It was kind of cool," Scott said. "[As a] matter [of] fact, he said, 'You're the first to know.' He said, 'Coach, you're the first to know that I'm going to announce my retirement.'
Scott says Bryant told him he was the first to know, but that is not entirely true. Bryant asked Michael Jordan for advice on his final season before the Lakers had played a single game, and he also told Dwyane Wade so that he could bring his kids to the Lakers game in Miami to see Kobe one more time (Bryant ultimately did not play against the Heat).
Regardless of who was first though, it is amusing that Bryant thought that nonchalantly telling his coach about his upcoming retirement in the middle of a game was the best way to about informing him. Does Kobe always give big career news in the middle of a game? Did he tell his high school coach he was going to the NBA while dunking in a high school championship game? This is easily the biggest instance of a Lakers' player talking about an offseason transaction during a game since Shaquille O'Neal tried to negotiate his next contract with Jerry Buss while running up the floor in a preseason game.