Kobe Bryant has frequently suggested that he will retire following the 2013/14 season, and after passing Wilt Chamberlain to become the NBA's No. 4 all-time leading scorer last night, Bryant told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com that he'll formally announce his intentions soon. The Black Mamba will decide this summer whether next season will be his last, but said his sense at the moment is that he'll walk away in the summer of 2014.
"I’ll talk to my family and stuff and really see if I want to continue to sacrifice as much as I’m sacrificing right now," Bryant said. "I’m putting my body through a lot to just try to get ready to play every single night. To do what I’m doing right now, it’s not easy. I’ll tell you, it’s taken a lot of commitment."
Bryant, who's eligible for an extension in the offseason, insists that if he chooses retirement, he won't listen to any entreaties from the Lakers to play longer. Still, he said one reason he wants to decide this summer is so the team can make plans based on whether he'll be around. Steve Nash is the only Laker signed beyond next season, and LeBron James could opt out of his deal and highlight the free agent class in 2014, so the purple and gold could be in for some major retooling.
If Bryant sticks around, he might have a shot at passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time points lead, which would happen in 2016/17 if he keeps up his current pace. Bryant believes that record is safe, as he told reporters, including Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
"I don’t see it happening," Bryant said. "But if I change my mind and decide to play a little bit longer and be a (point guard), that’s what I’ll do."