Although he initially wanted to stay open-ended about his future, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has decided he will retire following the 2015-16 season.
“This season is all I have left to give.” Bryant wrote in a Players Tribune article.
The Lakers had expected Bryant would retire following his 20th NBA season. Ever since he had season-ending right shoulder surgery last season after playing only 35 games, Bryant had expected he would not play past his current contract beyond $25 million. But Bryant had left the option open in case he changed his mind.
That appears no longer the case. Bryant has averaged 15.7 points on a career-low 31.5 percent shooting. The Lakers (2-13) are also off to their worst-start in franchise history.
“This season is all I have left to give,” Bryant wrote. “My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”
Bryant has experienced recent adversities amid three-season ending injuries in consecutive seasons to his left Achilles (April 2013), left knee (Dec. 2013) and right shoulder (Jan. 2014). But Bryant will have cemented a strong legacy with five NBA championships and a third-place ranking on the league’s all-time scoring list.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at email@example.com