In his first interview since announcing his retirement on The Players’ Tribune, Kobe Bryant explained his decision to leave the game in an interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America that aired on Wednesday.
When Roberts asked him how he knew “this was it,” Bryant said his daily morning meditation helped him realize his 20-season career was coming to an end.
“I try to have at least 15 minutes of still time and just kind of sit in my thoughts in the morning and just kind of meditate. And normally what happens with me is my mind would always drift to the game. Always," he said. "And then I found myself sitting there. My mind wouldn't drift towards the game all the time anymore. And that's when I started realizing, ‘You know what? It's getting close. It's getting close.’ Because now I'm not obsessively thinking about the game anymore. It's not wired into my subconscious the way it used to be.”
Bryant, 37, is a five-time NBA champion, a 17-time All Star and an NBA MVP. However, in his final season with the Los Angeles Lakers he has been struggling, averaging 15.8 points per game and a 30.1 shooting percentage. The Lakers are 2–15 after losing to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
In the interview, Roberts also asked Bryant whether he would include himself in the top five players of all time, which he declined. Instead, he named Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon and Jerry West.
“To be mentioned in the same breath as those players, honestly, to me is...everything,” Bryant said. “I mean, we’ll sit and debate endlessly who was better, who would win in a one-on-one matchup between myself and M.J. And you can debate that until the cows come home....He would win some. I would win some.”
- Erin Flynn