The news left Lakers coach Byron Scott feeling “sad” as Kobe Bryant informed him at some point on Saturday night that he planned to retire following the 2015-16 NBA season. But even if Scott nursed those feelings leading into Sunday’s game against the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center, Scott noticed that Bryant appeared “at peace” with his decision.
“It was so matter of fact,” Scott recalled in a press conference on Sunday evening. “After I thought about it, I felt better about that. It wasn’t like he was agonizing over anything.”
Bryant formally announced his plans in an article for The Players’ Tribune website that was published Sunday afternoon.
“You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream, and I’ll always love you for it,” Bryant wrote in the article. “But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer. This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”
The 37-year-old Bryant has averaged only 15.7 points per game, while shooting a career-low 31.5 percent from the field. The Lakers also nurse s 2-13 record, which marks the Western Conference’s worst record. That is only scratching the surface among the string of challenges Bryant encountered in recent seasons. He fractured his left Achilles tendon in April, 2013, an injury that both required surgery and eight months of rehab. Bryant then played only six games of the 2013-14 season before needing season-ending surgery on his fractured left knee. Last season, Bryant played 35 games before needing season-ending surgery to treat a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
Nonetheless, Scott argued, “I thought he at least had another year in him. I still do. The season isn’t over.”
“It’s hard when greatness like Kobe decides to hang it up,” Scott said. “I think for him, it’s going through the stretch we’re going through. But also the fact that we have 60 games left, get a chance to go around to all of these NBA cities and the can really show their appreciation for what he’s able to accomplish is great.”
Bryant will play in Sunday’s game against Indiana at Staples Center before traveling with the Lakers for an eight-game, 13-day trip. The first stop will be in Philadelphia, which will mark the last game Bryant plays before his hometown.