Kobe Bryant is a perpetual enigma.
If the Black Mamba isn't busy turning legs into jello on the hardwood, he's distorting reality off it—almost to the point of confusion.
Which is why it's no surprise that Bryant told CNN Turkey reporter Barbaros Tapan (via Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk) that he intends to play for another six years:
My aim is to play until I’m 40 years old and I believe I can do that. This year, we added very good players to our squad. Steve Nash, Dwight Howard will make us stronger. Right now, things are not going very well, but I believe it’ll get better soon.
Yes, Bryant, the same player that recently told Ken Berger of CBS Sports that he was going to retire once his current contract expired after next season, is now proclaiming he intends to play for half a decade longer.
Good, you're supposed to be. The Mamba will be pleased.
It doesn't take long to figure out that everything Kobe does is calculated, but that doesn't mean we're going to be able to make concrete sense of it.
Because we're not supposed to.
Bryant has made a career—and an illustrious one at that—out of keeping the opposition guessing. Most recently during last season's Pau Gasol debacle, he kept his own teammate and organization guessing with his string of continuously conflicting sentiments.
So why would he stop now?
Though plenty of people can picture the then 36-year-old Bryant permanently hanging up his kicks, there are also those who can see him playing until he's 40. The truth is, though, we won't know until the time comes.
And neither will he.
Let's not forget that Bryant himself has no idea whether he will be fit for duty beyond next season. A lot can happen in almost two years, especially when we're talking about Bryant, and especially when we're talking about Bryant's knees.
He's as consistent of a scorer as there has been in the NBA, yet his public notions are inconsistent at best.
But this is what he does, this is what separates Kobe from the rest. He's not afraid to speak his mind, however jumbled it is and no matter how many times he may contradict himself.
Because that's part of the fun, part of the game—keeping his opponent on his toes.
When will Kobe Bryant retire?
Only in this case, Bryant's opponent isn't just his peers—it's the entire basketball sphere. His opponent includes us, those who have cheered and jeered at him for nearly two decades.
Don't expect any preferential treatment just because we've hung on his often-conflicting words for more than 16 years. That's not who Bryant is; he always has to have the upper hand.
So don't take anything Kobe says with regards to his retirement at face value. Until the day finally comes, all talk that precludes it means zilch.
And let's face it, Bryant knowing that we don't know whether he knows what he'll do is all a mind game.
It's all a part of his never-ending, often-twisted sense of fun.