Columnists On Kobe Bryant’s Retirement Decision

Kobe Bryant‘s decision to retire at season’s end sent ripples throughout the NBA, even though it’s no real surprise that this will be his last year in the familiar purple-and-gold. Just about every NBA writer has weighed in on the news, and while it’s impossible to share everyone’s opinion in an easily digestible form, we’ll provide a healthy cross-section of perspective here:

  • No one in the Lakers organization was 100% certain that Bryant would walk away at season’s end until he said so on Sunday, according to Chris Mannix of Bryant doesn’t want a mawkish farewell tour, so instead it seems he’ll fade away without much fanfare, just as Michael Jordan did in his Wizards days, which is fitting, since no one has ever come closer to copying Jordan’s game than Bryant did, Mannix writes.
  • Bryant’s willingness to play through pain transcended that of Jordan, but it also precipitated the end of his career, Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding believes.
  • A strong bounceback from two injury-marred seasons and fast growth from the Lakers around him might have convinced Bryant to come back next season, but neither factor materialized, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports details.
  • Disregard for the draft, failure to reap trade assets for Pau Gasol, bungled decisions about who should coach the team, and free agent failures put the Lakers in the position they’re in now, not Bryant’s sizable salary and lagging performance, contends Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.
  • Retiring at season’s end is the only realistic ending for the broken-down Bryant, argues Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.
  • Bryant wanted to become the best player ever, and while he fell short of that, he’s easily in the top five all-time, posits Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News.
  • Michael Grange of sees it differently, concluding that Tim Duncan‘s career has been better than Bryant’s in almost every respect. Duncan, enmeshed in the Spurs’ egalitarian, ball-moving offense, embodies a changed NBA landscape that casts the individualistic Bryant as a vestige of a bygone era, Grange opines.
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