Kobe Bryant attempted to squash rumors that his time in Los Angeles could be coming to an end, telling reporters on Friday, “I’m a Laker for life. I’m not playing anywhere else.”
“How many times do I need to say it? God. I’ve said it so many times,” Bryant told reporters after a 104–98 win in Brooklyn. “I’m here. I’m a Laker for life. I’m not playing anywhere else, no matter what. It’s not going to happen. I bleed purple and gold, and that’s just how it’s going to be.”
New York Knicks president and former Lakers coach Phil Jackson caused a stir in September when he said that while he didn’t believe Bryant would retire after this season, he thought his former star’s time in L.A. was coming to an end.
“That’s Phil baiting you guys like he always does,” Bryant said. “He’s a master at it.”
On Saturday, Bryant, 37, suggested this season could be his last.
“If you asked me today, I’d say this would be my last year,” he told reporters. “But you never know.”
Bryant is in the final year of his contract with the Lakers, which will pay him $25 million, more than any player in the NBA. Through five games, he is shooting 32.1% from the field with an average of 16.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
In 31 minutes on Friday, Bryant went for 18 points on 5-of-16 shooting with three rebounds.
- Kenny Ducey