Through 6 games in the 2015-16 NBA season the Los Angeles Lakers are 1-5 and Kobe Bryant is averaging 16-3-2 in 29 minutes per game while shooting 32% from the field and 20% from three.
It is clear that the Black Mamba has almost no bite left and it is becoming increasingly clear that the end may be near for one of the greatest players to ever play the game.
Bryant has been hinting lately that he feels this season will be his last:
“If you asked me today, this would be my last year. But you never know. We’ll keep it open. Whatever happens, happens.”
Rumors have also surfaced that he has said as much to Head Coach Byron Scott.
In an interview with the Associated Press Monday, Bryant told reporters that he desires to be a part of the U.S. Olympic team in Rio in 2016. A stark contrast from his comments on the situation 22 months ago when he said he had no interest.
“It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” Bryant said in an interview with The Associated Press. ”I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”
Bryant has been a big part of the past two Olympic gold medal winning teams in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012, including hitting a number of cutch buckets down the stretch to help secure victory in the gold medal game against Spain in 2008.
Kobe has become a much more introspective person as of late and you get the sense that he is coming to grips that his basketball mortality is catching up with him. Here is Bryant reminiscing to NBA writer Lang Whitaker on his journey as a basketball player in the past tense after Sunday’s game against the Knicks, possibly Kobe’s last game in Madison Square Garden, a place where he once scored 61:
“I was a talented overachiever. I worked my butt off every single day to make sure I left no stone unturned, and tried to push it as much as I possibly could.”
That legendary work ethic has appeared to catch up to Bryant and watching him toil away for a 25 win Lakers team as half of the player he once was isn’t the way most basketball fans would hope to see Kobe go out, even though he is doing it his way.
Riding off into the sunset in Rio de Janiero with a third gold medal and the American flag draped around his shoulder seems like a much more fitting walk off into the sunset for one of the greatest players the basketball world has ever seen.