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Phil Jackson thinks it may be Kobe's 'last year as a Laker'

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Why does the coach Kobe has won all five of his NBA titles with think Bryant will continue on after this season?

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant had their differences over their time together, but the two men also formed a professional bond that resulted in five NBA championships for the Los Angeles Lakers. Because of this time and success together, when either of these NBA legends speak about the other one, people take note. Many are assuming that 2015-16 will be Bryant's last season in the NBA, but at the New York Knick's media day on Friday, the ever-quotable Jackson, who is now the Knicks' team president, had some thoughts to the contrary to share.

"I don't think it's his last year," Jackson told reporters, "Sounds like it may be his last year as a Laker." Could Bryant actually not retire as a Laker, and head to another NBA team to finish his career? It seems unlikely after all of the time's Bryant has spoken about how much he values the opportunity to play his entire career with one team, like in 2014 when he told Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears about his loyalty to the team:

"I hear the chatter of Kobe should ask out and he should go and play for a contender in this latter stage of his career," Bryant told Yahoo Sports. "But that's not what I do. I'm extremely loyal to the Lakers.

"I believe in fighting through the tough times as well as enjoying the good times. It's my responsibility to get us to be the best that we can be. It's important that we approach that on a day-to-day basis."

...

"I've enjoyed a great amount of success here. You can't just enjoy the successful times and then run away from the bad ones. No, I don't even think about [departing]. I'm a Laker."

Bryant's feelings obviously could have changed since then, but that does not sound like a prelude to a stint as a late career ring chaser. But again, all of this is a moot point until Bryant figures out whether or not he can make it through the current season healthy. Until he knows that, decisions on if he will play in 2016 and who he will play for will have to wait, no matter what Phil Jackson says.