Kobe Bryant feels he has plenty left in the tank and has no plans of retiring at the end of the upcoming season. The Los Angeles Lakers will not pressure Bryant into retiring after his current contract expires and are open to bringing the icon back for a few more seasons.
Bryant’s longevity with the franchise is a rare occurrence in today’s NBA. Bryant, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki are the only stars in the league that are actively playing with the same franchise for 10 years or more. Each one of those players are NBA champions.
There something to be said about loyalty between player and franchise. It just doesn’t happen too often these days. The NBA is a business, and teams are pressured to generate revenue. In the midst of that pressure comes risky personnel decisions. Teams trade away star players to save money or trade for them in hopes of filling the seats of their arenas.
The pressure falls on the players as well. Players may feel the franchise they are currently with may not have the assets to win a championship, and they demand to be traded or leave via free agency. Players might also feel that they can become a bigger star off the court if they move from a smaller market franchise to a larger market franchise to get more national exposure.
Players like Bryant who have stuck it out with their current franchises from the begining reap the benefits of their loyalty in the amount of rings, money and fame.
Bryant is the most accomplished player in the league with his assortment of championship rings, prestigueous awards and All-Star selections. His play on the court validates him as one of the best players to ever play the game. The Lakers benefit from their loyalty to Bryant by all the revenue his play has helped generate.
The Lakers are arguably the most popular franchise in basketball globally, and whether they are winning championships or getting bounced out the playoffs in disappointing fashion, Los Angeles is in high demand.
The Lakers and Bryant would never be such iconic figures in sports without the commitment they both made to each other over the last 17 years. The key to the relationship is that winning is the No. 1 priority to the two parties. Winning is the best way for a professional franchise to generate revenue. If you win, the fans will support you; they will fill the seats at the arena and snatch up team merchandise.
So when it comes to how long Bryant should play for Los Angeles, the only factor should be if he can still play at elite level where the team can contend for championships. There will be a time when “Father Time” will finally catch up to Bryant, and he will be forced to retire at some point, but that time is not now, and the Lakers have no plans on moving on without him for the near future.