Shams Charania: Kobe Bryant on Lakers retiring both Nos…

More on Kobe Bryant Retirement

Bryant, who gave an informal backstage pep talk to the fighters, can’t stick around for the card. He said he was in a rush to get home to his three daughters, the oldest of which, Gianna, has flashed some of the same basketball skills as her dad. Bryant has said he has no interest in a Lakers’ front office role and is content to keep his scouting reports within the family. “I coach my daughter’s sixth grade team. That’s the extent of it all,” Bryant said. “She’s a beast. She’s tough. She’s a little firecracker, man.”
Ramona Shelburne: The Lakers are planning to retire Kobe's jersey before the Warriors game on Dec 18, per team sources. No word yet on whether it'll be No. 8 or 24.
Bryant says he hasn't had any pangs of withdrawal since his playing days ended, mostly because he's so busy with his studio company. "I don't miss it - not even a little," Bryant says. "It's crazy, right? I love what I'm doing right now. I'm all in on my studio projects."
Bryant is too fresh off his playing career and deep into his business pursuits. But it's worth noting that he met with Buss and Rambis in February to give his opinion on the state of the franchise. He also advocated for Pelinka, his former agent, who will take over as the Lakers general manager. That left Johnson, who was probably Buss' first choice, anyway. He reached out to check on her after the announcement that her engagement to Jackson was off. They planned to have dinner, and the rest happened quickly. When you've been operating without trust for so long, it makes the desire for it even stronger -- and there are few people in the world whom Buss trusts more than Johnson.
I got to ask, because I feel like the setting’s begging for it: What’s your relationship with death? Kobe Bryant: A comfortable one. Yeah? Kobe Bryant: It’s a comfortable one. It’s an understanding. You can’t have life without death. Can’t have light without the dark. So it’s an acceptance of that. When it came time to decide whether or not I should retire, [it was] really an acceptance of that mortality that all athletes face. And if you combat it, you’ll always have that inner struggle within yourself. … So … I’m comfortable with it.
In The Wall Street Journal, you said that you’d been planning this phase as early as three years back. What was the moment that made you decide to start planning? Kobe Bryant: Well, the injury. When I injured my Achilles, then it became something where it’s, OK, this is immediate, right? The end of my career could be now. So since I was 21 years old and thinking, OK, I have to figure out what comes next. You kind of brainstorm, you ideate, but you never really execute anything. And when the injury happened, I said, “OK, no, I need to start building now.” And that’s when the turning point was for me.
Kobe Bryant admitted to watching a few games during the first week of the NBA season. But playing again? Not a chance. "Not even a little bit," Bryant said Tuesday morning at the launch of his latest signature Nike shoe, the "Kobe A.D." "It's strange to think a couple years ago, to be in this emotional space would be unfathomable. But I mean not even a smidge, which I'm very thankful for, because it's made my transition seamless and I can really just watch and just enjoy the games."
Mike Trudell: Luke Walton on coming in with no Kobe: “20 years, one of the greatest runs in any sport by any athlete. He’s obviously going to be missed." Luke Walton said Kobe’s exit does open the door for the next stage and movement of Lakers basketball.
Roland Lazenby recently joined the Triple Threat Podcast to discuss his upcoming book about Bryant. While bound to an understandable secrecy agreement with his publishing house (Little Brown), Roland Lazenby was able to describe the project as a 600-page journey through Kobe Bryant’s life and the path his basketball career took. Outside of his most recent book (Michael Jordan: The Life), Lazenby has also written a biography on former Laker Jerry West and taken in-depth looks at the life and career of both Phil Jackson (while he was coaching the Bulls) and even a young Bryant. Roland Lazenby also acknowledged that the book does spend some time focusing on the life of Bryant’s father Joe “Jellybean” Bryant as an NBA player and the parallels Lazenby described as “a pretty compelling story about Kobe being the force of nature” that he has been, and how their two stories are interlinked in the obvious father/son ways and beyond.
While Roland Lazenby described Bryant’s final year as sub par when compared to the incredible standard he established throughout his Hall of Fame career, he said a portion of the book will also center around the vintage 60-point scoring performance Bryant left us with and how unique of a farewell game that truly was. He also described the project as a view of Bryant as both a cultural and sports figure and said his basic focus was on the 20-year career and all the relationships that played a role in developing and maintaining Bryant’s greatness along the way.
FTW: How has retirement been for you? Kobe Bryant: Retirement’s been great for me. I’m focused on the next thing and enjoying that. I get up every morning, and I’m excited to get to it. It’s been good. FTW: John Black said the morning after the game, that you had woken up really early, gone to the gym, got in the office by 8:30, is that still something you’ve kept up? KB: 8! (laughs) Yeah, yeah. I love everything I’m doing. I’m very, very fortunate to be able to say that. It’s always been a great fear of playing the game is will you be able to love the next thing as much as you love playing. Fortunately for me, the answer is yes.
FTW: There was an AP story that came out and said you’ve been speaking with Spielberg and a lot of the giants in the movie industry, but have you called people from other facets of the business world, as well? KB: Yeah, I’ve been really fortunate to have really great mentors throughout my career, which have nothing to do with basketball. Anna Wintour, Arianna Huffington, Mark Parker, Jony Ive, to be able to have access to them, to speak to them — just speak, not necessarily about business in particular, just nature and people and culture and things like that.
FTW: What’s your stance on eSports and has that changed? Recently, ESPN has been getting into it, it’s now seen more of as a legitimate sport whereas before it was viewed as just video games and not a real sport. KB: I think people are really interested in watching people problem solve. It doesn’t matter what industry. People are very fascinated by that — seeing the struggles people go through and how they overcome it. I think this was just a matter of time before it caught fire. To be able to sit and watch a performance on TV and watch how the gamers are figuring out those challenges amongst themselves, you can’t help but be interested.
A piece of the Staples Center game floor specially made for Kobe Bryant's last game sold for $179,100. The piece, four panels measuring four feet by eight feet each, had Kobe's former number 8 on it and was signed by Bryant after he scored 60 points in his final game on April 13.
Silver said he and the league have already been in discussions with Bryant about incorporating him into the NBA's future plans in myriad ways, similar to the role that Celtics legend Bill Russell has with the NBA. "I’m sure this is not the last chapter for him, in terms of the NBA," Silver told the group at NBA headquarters. "He’s talked a lot about all kinds of things, but he said he’d be particularly interested in doing something around media. "There's some film projects he's talked to us about. I think he really wants to explore how it is he can teach the game to others, how he can present the inside of the game."
Chris Bosh on Kobe Bryant: We went to the village to hang out a few times while the Olympic Games were going on, and I remember everybody walking through the arcade that they’d set up for the athletes. There were a bunch of games, but in particular, they had those mini pop-a-shot basketball games that you can find in just about every arcade in the world. Kobe and Michael Redd started playing, and things got competitive. After a few games, I got tired of watching, so I left to meet up with some friends. I had to have been gone for a couple of hours. When it was almost time to head back to the hotel, I stopped by the arcade again and those guys were still playing! Both of them were in a full sweat with a focus like it was a real game. That was pretty funny to me because I’d always heard about how competitive Kobe was and in that moment, I got to witness it for myself.
Sixty points?! On 50 shots?! "It was like I was forced to," Kobe says. "By the crowd and mostly by teammates." What was more ridiculous? That his 60 points was twice as many as any Hall of Famer has scored in his last regular-season game. That, at age 37, he was five years older than anyone else who has scored 60 points? That no one has taken 50 shots in an NBA game in 49 years? Or that his teammates didn't want him to pass? "I challenged him to score 50 points and that motherfucker got 60," O'Neal said as he stood on the court long after Kobe had left it, trying to process his final brazen act. "It would have taken me four months to get 50 shots on any of the teams I played for," Horace Grant said. "And that motherfucker took 50 in one night."
His back hurts and his shoulder is sore from 20 years in the league and 50 god damn shots! And he's laughing at me, at anyone, who thought he'd be at peace going out any other way. "What you saw there was the opening scene of the basketball version of the blood-spattered bride," Bryant says. "The opening scene of 'Kill Bill.'"
There's the obvious swipe at the narcissism that's made him at least as famous as his scoring. Of course Kobe has moved into a world of his own making. The only surprise is that he'd pass the vision to a group of writers and trust that they'd execute it better than he could. "I think Walt did this with animation, as well," he says. Yes, he's referring to Walt Disney. "He quickly realized that, although he could draw pretty well, there are other animators out there that are just much, much better. He went and found those animators and gave them the vision and allowed them to do what they do best. If you collaborate with great people and each one is enhancing the other, that's when we create things that are timeless."
Bryant seemed surprised when he and I boarded an elevator together a couple of hours before the Lakers played the Grizzlies. He recovered quickly and started asking about my daily routine — how often I filed stories, tweeted to followers, etc. He was already gathering information for his post-basketball career, which he hoped would include a website launch akin to Derek Jeter's theplayerstribune.com, of which Bryant was an original investor. Along those lines, imagine my surprise last season when Bryant didn't glare at a reporter who asked whether his career was headed the way of Michael Jordan's — slow in the beginning, plenty of championships in the middle and rough at the end for team and player.
Bryant weighed the question, then said it was fair because it was "reachable content." He almost sounded like an editor. Last November, I figured he probably wouldn't find a lengthy Times story I co-wrote with Broderick Turner to be under the same "reachable" category.
Kenny Smith's dream may actually come true ... 'cause "Inside the NBA" has reached out to Kobe Bryant to see if he wants a job, TMZ Sports has learned. Both Kenny and Shaq have publicly talked about wanting Kobe to join the panel on the TNT show after he retired from the NBA ... and now, our sources tell us the courting has officially begun.
Mark Medina: Mitch on Kobe's last game: " I don't know how he got through that game."
Kobe Bryant not only set a points record for a player of his age in his final NBA game Wednesday night -- he also helped the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Lakers break industry merchandise records. On Wednesday alone, the Staples Center sold $1.2 million worth of Kobe merchandise, Sean Ryan, AEG vice president of merchandise told ESPN. Ryan said that's a single-day sales record for any arena in the world.
Prices of the merchandise were certainly for the well-heeled. Most of the hats, more than 60 percent of which sold out, cost $72.48 each. There were eight hats made out of snake and lamb skin that cost $38,024 and eight hats made from cashmere with five diamonds on it that cost $24,008. Ryan said only three went unsold.
Kobe Bryant not only set a points record for a player of his age in his final game Wednesday night, he also helped the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Lakers break all-time industry merchandise records. On Wednesday alone, the Staples Center sold $1.2 million worth of Kobe merchandise, Sean Ryan, AEG vice president of merchandise told ESPN. Ryan said that's a single-day sales record for any arena in the world.
The Los Angeles Rams knew they would command huge swathes of public opinion when they announced their blockbuster trade with the Tennessee Titans for the number one pick in the draft. And indeed they did, but it happened about 12 hours after they knew the deal was in place. Knowing that Kobe was preparing to take the court for the final time of his career, the two teams didn’t want to overshadow his moment and therefore delayed the announcement until the following morning, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Dwyane Wade: What else should we have expected. It's only Kobe Bryant were talking about. 60!!!!!! You never seem to amaze. #Salute @kobebryant
Yes, Bryant had to shoot 50 times to reach 60 points. No one seemed to mind. And yes, he was exhausted, breathing so hard that his teammates wondered if he could keep going, if passing him the ball over and over, setting screens upon screens, would wipe him out before the fourth quarter. Only, he became stronger in the fourth quarter. He made big shots, including two immense 3-pointers to complete an improbable 101-96 comeback victory over the Jazz. An hour later, Bryant stood on the court with his longtime agent, Rob Pelinka, and told him about that 3-pointer with 30 seconds left that secured the victory. No legs, Rob. Nothing left. “Shot it with my arms,” Bryant said.
Whenever Bryant hit a touch stretch, he fought his way out of it. It was the story of this season, of these final few years when nothing came easy to him. “There were times where I drove to the basket and my legs were just like, ‘What, are you nuts?’ But I just throw the ball up and it goes in, and [I’m] like, ‘Thank God.’”
NBA: Dear Kobe, Thank you. Thank you for your passion, commitment, and dedication to basketball. Thank you for showing us that 24 is not just the number on your jersey, but the number of hours in a day you must devote to basketball to be the best. Thank you for giving and giving and giving.
"There were a lot of points there where I got emotional," Bryant said. "When I first ran out of the tunnel. When I put on my jersey. When those moments happen you catch yourself. You have got to block that out because none of it makes a difference if you go out there and completely lay an egg and mess up the situation.
Storyline: Kobe Bryant Retirement
More HoopsHype Rumors
August 18, 2022 | 2:54 am EDT Update
Those around the team were confident that James signing an extension was likely, considering how much he’s enjoyed playing for the Lakers and living in Los Angeles. The primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic.
The Lakers have explored runs at Nets point guard Kyrie Irving ($36.9 million expiring contract), but it’s unclear if Brooklyn would want to include Joe Harris’ $19.9 million salary for 2023-24 as well. The Pacers have Buddy Hield, a former client of Lakers executive Rob Pelinka, at $18.6-23.3 million for next season (depending on incentives). Los Angeles has also explored a deal for Pacers center Myles Turner with the expectation that he would extend or re-sign beyond his current $17.5-20 million salary for 2022-23.
Rob Pelinka has been “very active” in attempting to add more shooting and size to the Los Angeles Lakers roster, according to Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN. “Rob Pelinka has still been very active, even in the dog days of August. He’s been on the phone a lot, he’s still trying to find deals to bring in more shooting, perhaps some size. And so I think those conversations continue all the way into training camp,” said Wojnarowski on NBA Today.
Among the executives with whom I spoke, a Boston deal with Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece appears to be the unofficial front-runner here. In general terms, sources say the Nets are using the fact that the Celtics (and perhaps other teams) have made their second-best player available as a baseline of sorts in negotiations. Translation: If you’re still trying to discuss a Durant deal without putting your second-best talent on the table, then just stop wasting everyone’s time and bow out of this race.