Los Angeles Lakers superstar guard Kobe Bryant appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Thursday night, and when asked when he will retire, Byrant said it will be "soon." The 34-year-old shooting guard is in his 17th NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers and he is signed with the team through the 2013-14 season, but when Kimmel asked Bryant about a previous statement that he wants another ring before he retires, Bryant emphatically responded that he will never play for a team other than the Lakers:
"I'm not going anywhere. I couldn't possibly. I've been very fortunate to be with one organization, and I just feel like you should try to do the best that you can to win with the organization you're with. And if it happens, great. And it if doesn't, it doesn't."
Kobe is owed $30.45 million in the final year of his contract with the Lakers, but he controls his own destiny in terms of a trade. Bryant is one of four NBA players that holds a full no-trade clause -- Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki are the other three -- so he can make sure he stays a Laker at least through 2013-14.
Bryant is playing extremely well this season, so it's hard to imagine he has one foot out the door at the moment. However, the Lakers have invested in an aging roster, and it's difficult to see a championship window for the franchise in the near future. As he elaborated on his future, this is what he had to say:
Kobe: "I've been very blessed to have been with a fantastic organization. I truly have. It's coming to an end, and I'm happy that it will be in a Lakers uniform."
Kimmel: "How soon do you think it will be coming to an end?"
Kobe: "It will be soon. I've played 20 years. I mean when I came into the league I had an afro, and I can't grow one now if I tried."
Whenever Bryant decides to talk away from the game, he will be remember as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. He's a 15-time NBA All-Star, a five-time NBA champion, a league MVP (2007-08), a two-time NBA Finals MVP and a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. He ranks third among active NBA players with 44,747 minutes played and he is No. 5 on the all-time scoring list with 31,195 points -- behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
Here's the relevant portion of the interview with Kimmel (1:58 mark):
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