Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has steered his team into five NBA Championships, but the last two seasons have not been very kind to him because of a series of injuries. In an interview with Yahoo! Sports, said he has yet to decide if the next 2015-16 NBA Season would be his last.
According to Bryant, he has not yet decided on his retirement as he also discussed his team's current recruitment and draft hiring as well as free agent moves.
He told Yahoo! Sports, "We haven't set anything in stone and I've talked about it before. But could this be the last [season]? Absolutely. It's tough to decide. It's really tough to make those types of decisions. Players I have spoken to say, 'Kobe you will know.'"
Bryant, who is into the final season of his two year, $48.5 million contract and set to earn $25 million in the upcoming season, was referring to the statement made by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak who was quoted in a May interview via SiriusXM NBA Radio that the 2015-16 will be the final season for the Laker's star point guard and future Hall of Famer.
"He has indicated to me that this is (his last year). There have been no discussions about anything going forward and I don't think there will be," Kupchak said then.
Bryant added, "There are no question marks on what I can do. My body and my legs feel extremely strong and healthy. That's the big difference. My upper body, I've been doing the weights and stuff like that. I've been kind of building up the upper body strength. The biggest change is I feel very, very solid in my legs."
The 17-time All-Star and 11-time All-NBA first team selection, also praised Kupchak for the efforts he has been doing to build up the Lakers and secure its future starting with drafting D'Angelo Russell with the No. 2 pick, signing Lou Williams and Brandon Bass and trading for Roy Hibbert.
The Los Angeles Lakers recruited Williams, the NBA's sixth man of the year last season with the Toronto Raptors, and Bass from the free agency. The team traded for center Hibbert, sending a future second-round draft pick to the Indiana Pacers. Los Angeles also selected Russell with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
"They have really set themselves up for a promising future going on years. I think they drafted very well. The free agents that we picked are extremely solid, [Roy] Hibbert, [Brandon] Bass, Lou [Williams]. We have a very good mix of young and veteran leadership. The challenge is going to be blending the two and cutting down the learning curve," Bryant commented.
He added, "How quickly can we get going? How quickly can we bring up [rookie D'Angelo] Russell, [Julius] Randle. [Jordan] Clarkson got valuable experience last year in playing that will benefit us tremendously. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to running with these young guns."
Bryant insisted that his passion to stay with the team is not motivated by money. He said he is not playing for money. "I don't want to undervalue the importance of generating any type of whatever. I don't want to make it sound like I'm underappreciative of that or not thankful for that. But at the same, what is really important? What is the important thing? I never played for money. When I laced my sneakers up when I was a kid in Italy I wasn't thinking about money. I had no idea how much Magic [Johnson] or [Larry] Bird got paid. I played it because I loved it."
The last NBA season was undoubtedly bad for the 36-year-old Bryant and the Lakers. Bryant played only 41 games over the last two seasons and shot a career-worst 37.3 percent from the field and had a true shooting percentage under 50 percent for the first time.
With too much at stake in the next NBA season, fans eagerly await how Bryant, one of the best basketball players to don the uniform, will cap his legacy in the sport.