Having been the subject of recent speculation involving the BIG3, Kobe Bryant appeared on The Rich Eisen Show to reiterate that he has no plans to come out of retirement and play basketball again in the NBA, the BIG3, or any other league, as Christian Rivas of Silver Screen & Roll relays.
“There’s about a 0% chance that I come back to play,” Bryant said. “Nothing. Done, that’s it.”
Bryant, who turned 40 years old on Thursday, last appeared in the NBA in 2016 when he scored 60 points in his final game as a Laker. The 18-time All-Star’s notorious competitiveness led to some speculation that he wouldn’t be able to stay away from the game for good. As he explains to Eisen though, Kobe viewed that skepticism as a challenge in its own right.
“When I retired, everybody was saying, ‘OK, he’s too competitive, he’s not going to know what to do with himself, he’s going to have to come back,'” Bryant said. “I took that as a personal challenge of them thinking I am this one-dimensional person, that all I know is how to dribble the ball, shoot the ball and play basketball. … I took that as a personal challenge.
“I will never come back to the game, ever,” Bryant continued. “I’m here to show people that we (professional athletes) can do much more than that. Creating this business, winning an Oscar, winning an Emmy, those are things that are showing other athletes that come after, ‘No, no. There is more to this thing.’ So I would never (come out of retirement). It’s not even a thought.”
Of course, Bryant hasn’t stepped entirely away from the game of basketball — he continues to work with some NBA players who have reached out to him, and he coaches his daughter’s team. However, he appears to have definitively shut the door on his days as a player.
BIG3 co-founder Ice Cube joked last week that Bryant would need to get a “restraining order” against him to stop him from trying to convince Kobe to join the BIG3. But by the sounds of it, Ice Cube and fellow co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz won’t have much luck with their recruiting efforts.