Reports surfaced today that Kobe Bryant has a torn rotator cuff and is out indefinitely. At 36, it’s time for him to call it a career.
After 18 seasons and 1,500 games played, including playoff games, it’s time for Bryant to retire. He is the example of a guy unwilling to “let go” of something that has brought him so much success. He should’ve been done after he tore his Achilles against the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s only played 41 games since.
Bryant never had a major injury until that Achilles gave out. He was an NBA ironman. He achieved his success through hard work and good health. Nobody thinks of Father Time and how many battles it has won, until it claims another victim. We are seeing it with Peyton Manning. We’ve seen signs with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Even the seemingly invincible Brett Favre broke down. NBA people talked about Steve Nash and the great shape he kept his body in during his career. No one has seen him play since 2013 because of injuries. He can’t even lift his own bags at the airport anymore.
Whether it is several knick-knack injuries that stay with a player for the rest of his career or one major injury in your 30’s, it’s only a matter of time. Bryant will go down as one of the greatest players of all time. He never tied Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships like he wanted, but you can’t fault a guy who helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to seven Finals appearances and five championships.
He handicapped the Lakers, and probably himself, last season when he signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract that runs until 2016. He made $30 million last season and played in six games. How did he handicap himself? He ate up nearly half of the team’s salary cap. That didn’t allow the Lakers to spend money on free agents who could have lightened the load on Bryant. He made five million dollars per game played last season.
Bryant hasn’t been himself since 2013. All of his numbers are way down and his efficiency is just above what is considered “average”. His Win Shares are 0.1, ranking him 392nd in the NBA with players like Victor Claver, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Archie Goodwin.
That isn’t Kobe Bryant.
His body is telling him to call it a career, even if this isn’t how he wanted it to end. He tried to come back once, and it backfired.
He tried it a second time, and ended up with the same result.