Kobe Bryant is thinking about the future.
Though the Los Angeles Lakers franchise cornerstone signed a two-year extension in November that will keep him playing through the 2015-16 season, the 35-year-old Bryant has already turned his attention to post-retirement ventures.
Unfortunately, any fans who might be clamoring for Bryant to stay on the bench after he hangs up his sneakers shouldn't hold their breath. Bryant expressed zero interest in a post-retirement coaching position in an interview with CNBC: "Well, you know, you have to find something you're passionate about. And I'm passionate about playing the game. Coaching...I just don't have that obsession to be a great coach."
Bryant's attitude—that the business world is far more intriguing than coaching—is in line with that of most modern NBA superstars. There was a time when more Hall of Fame players transitioned from the court to the bench. Lenny Wilkens and Bill Russell are two of the most famous examples of legendary player-coaches.
Even many of the greats who came to the fore in the early '80s—Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson—tried their hand at coaching at one point; even if Magic only coached the Lakers for 16 games.
But it was players like Magic and especially Michael Jordan who showed later generations of big-name players that they could use their star status to make hay in the world of business. And with the kind of money they make, it should come as no surprise that Magic and Michael have become beacons that other NBA retirees wish to follow.
Nowadays, there is only one surefire Hall of Famer currently serving as an NBA head coach: Jason Kidd of the Brooklyn Nets. But there are other legendary players—like current Charlotte Bobcats assistant Patrick Ewing—looking for their first head coaching gig.
Per Ryan Carreon of the Deseret News, there may be some merit to the idea that quality players make quality coaches:
According to a study done by researchers at Cornell University and the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, former basketball players who had long careers, or were selected as All-Stars, had statistically higher winning percentages as head coaches.
"Having a former All-Star player as your coach is worth about six extra places in the NBA rankings in team winning percentage," said Larry Kahn, a professor of labor economics and collective bargaining at Cornell’s ILR School. "We were surprised at the strength of the statistical evidence."
As for Bryant, he has the name value—especially in China, the world's largest market—to succeed in any business venture. As with everything he does, it would be unwise to bet against him.