Kobe Bryant may retire after two more seasons in the NBA. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant may only play two more seasons in the NBA, he said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports' Graham Bensinger.
Bensinger read Bryant a quote from his rookie year, when the shooting guard said, “When I’m 35 years old, I’m not going to be in the league. By then, I’ll be relaxing with my family overseas somewhere.”
The 33-year-old Bryant said in the interview that his statement is "still probably accurate."
“I’ve been playing for 17 years now, so next year will be my 17th and then, when I’m 35, it will be my 18th year in the league. I mean, that’s a long time to be playing. It will be the last year in my contract, so I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll play any longer than that.”
Bryant said he will probably decide at the end of that season whether he wants to keep playing. He wants to be sure before he retires. He doesn't want to then un-retire after a season and try to make a comeback. "I don’t want to be one of those guys," he said.
Bryant has continued to play well. He scored 27.9 points per game last season.
The Lakers acquired veteran point guard Steve Nash this offseason, and the move makes some believe Los Angeles is the favorite to win the Western Conference next season. If Nash, who signed a three-year contract, and the Lakers are title contenders in two seasons, it would probably be hard for Bryant to walk away from the team.
But another NBA title or two could also convince Kobe that it is time to go out at the top.