Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is still a dynamic player, even though he is almost 34 years old and has a lot of miles on his legs. He has two expensive years left on his contract, and understandably there is a lot of speculation as to what happens when that deal runs out. Kobe seems like the type of guy who could keep playing for a number of years beyond that contract, but you have to wonder if Kobe wants to hang around just to be on the floor.
Set up to win now
The reality of the Lakers is that they are set up to win right now. Acquiring Steve Nash and bringing in players like Antawn Jamison is about surrounding Kobe with veterans and making another run at a title. Andrew Bynum is still young and he may the cornerstone of an eventual youth movement, but the Lakers continue to trade away draft picks. Therefore, bringing in a bevy of young players is not going to happen for several seasons. Los Angeles seems committed to keeping a squad of veterans until at least two years from now.
An eventual decline
You have wonder when Kobe will start to decline. He can still play at an extremely high level, but at some point his body will betray him. We have seen this happen to all the great players. Some of these legends recognized the decline and walked away before they became an embarrassment. Others seemed unable to step away from the spotlight, which made for some sad departures. Kobe is an incredibly competitive player, but he also seems like a guy who would like to go out before he tarnishes his legacy.
Anything else to accomplish?
Kobe has already put together a storied career, and it doesn't seem like there is much more for him to accomplish. I am sure he would like to win a sixth title, but he already has five rings, multiple individual rewards and Olympic success. Bryant could theoretically go after the all-time scoring record, which is currently held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. However, that would probably take a few years beyond this particular contract.
Two more years on this contract. Then, who knows?
The author grew up in Seattle and now lives in Los Angeles, where he enjoys the rivalry between the Lakers and the Clippers, and all the drama that goes with being in the Southland. You can follow him on Twitter @tpheifer.
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