Kobe Bryant on ending career overseas: ‘I can see myself doing that’

Jan 21, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) against the New Orleans Pelicans during a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Lakers 96-80. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the Los Angeles Lakers gave Kobe Bryant a two-year contract extension following his Achilles’ tendon injury, people have wondered if the 2015-16 season will be Kobe Bryant’s final campaign in the NBA. Unfortunately, injuries have caused Kobe to limp toward his 20th season in the NBA, after rupturing his Achilles near the end of season 17 for the superstar. Since then, he’s only played in 41 games total as the Lakers have become one of the doormats of the NBA.

As Kobe enters his 20th season, he has a decision to make regarding whether or not it will be his final season in the NBA. In a Q&A with Yahoo’s Marc Spears, we find out Kobe is still undecided on this being his last season. He also reveals that even if it is his last season in the NBA, he may still consider playing some professional ball in a place like Italy or China.

Q: Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has hinted that next season can be your last. Could it be?

Kobe: “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.’

“I’m making this very simple. Either I like playing the game and going through this process or I don’t. I try to strip it down to the simplest form. Either I like playing some more or I don’t. But I think that decision needs to be made after the season. It’s hard to make a decision like that before the season.”

Q: After growing up in Italy and spending time in China, could you see yourself ending your career playing at either place?

Kobe: “I can see myself doing that. I can see myself doing a lot of stuff. That’s a whole other question. I will make some decisions when I decide to hang it up.”

Whether Kobe finishes after this season or goes for a 21st season, he’ll finish with one of the most impressive résumés in NBA history and go down as one of the top players we’ve ever seen in this league.

  • Five championships with two Finals MVP awards
  • 2008 Most Valuable Player
  • All-NBA First Team (11 times), All-NBA Second Team (2 times), All-NBA Third Team (2 times)
  • All-Defensive First Team (9 times), All-Defensive Second Team (3 times)
  • All-Star Selection (17 times)
  • Third all-time leading scorer
  • Sixth all-time in made shots
  • Third all-time in made free throws
  • 10th all-time in minutes played
  • 20th all-time in games played

He has also earned over $300 million in his career just from his playing contracts.