LA Lakers star, who quits after this season, keen to help game spread post-retirement
He's been a regular fixture at NBA for the last 20 years. But at the end of this season, American basketball legend Kobe Bryant will finally bid adieu to basketball.
After announcing his retirement last month, the LA Lakers star is currently in the midst of a long farewell tour, lapping up the standing ovations from fans at various venues for one last time. In the last two decades, the 37-year-old has earned five NBA championships, two Finals MVP gongs, one MVP trophy and 17 All-Star appearances, besides two Olympic gold medals with the USA team.
So, where does he feel he stands in basketball history? "I try to look at my legacy and how it impacts the future of the game. I'm not looking at my legacy from the standpoint of where I fit in with the greatest of all time. For me, it's a moot point and a shallow argument.
"The most important thing and the most beautiful thing is how does your legacy impact the generation of players to come. If what I've done and what I've stood for in these 20 years has impacted the players today and the players tomorrow in a positive way, in a way they can then carry that legacy on themselves and impact the generation to follow, that's much more significant than where I stand in history," Bryant told journalists over a teleconference from Denver early on Tuesday morning before the match against the Nuggets.
As for how LA Lakers, the franchise, would move on from a player who has been the cornerstone of their success for all these years, Bryant felt "(they should) make smart decisions and build the team."
While announcing his retirement with a poem on The Players' Tribune website, Bryant wrote, "My heart can take the pounding; My mind can handle the grind; But my body knows it's time to say goodbye."
The shooting guard revealed that had it not been for his body, he would have probably plyed his trade abroad for a season. "I would have loved to have played overseas for a season but it's not going to happen. I wish I could have done it but I can't. My body won't let me.
"My body has been through a lot. And it's very easy to forget I haven't played because of it. My timing is off, my rhythm is off. It was about me continuing my training and believing my timing will come back and that's what happened," Bryant said before adding that playing in next year's Rio Olympics would be "beautiful."
"It's not something I'm absolutely pressing for, but being part of the Olympic experience is a beautiful thing. It would be a beautiful thing to finish my career playing internationally."
For now, he's set his sights on making the game more popular internationally once he retires. "I plan on helping the game spread and helping kids around the world understand the kind of the metaphors that come along with the game... everything that surrounds the game of basketball." Whether this brings Bryant to India remains to be seen.