Will Kobe Bryant Retire At the End Of the Season?

Sean StancillSenior Writer IMay 13, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on before taking on the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 12, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Will Kobe Bryant retire at the end of the season? As puzzling as it sounds, it could become a sad reality for the game of basketball to cope with. He has accomplished a multitude of achievements; three rings, MVP, and worldwide adulation being among the most notable.

Compound that with the fact Bryant has a clause in his contract which allows him to opt out this season and sign with another team, and KB24 has plenty of options.

Should the Los Angeles Lakers win the championship this year, Bryant may feel that he has accomplished all that he could. In that scenario, he would have taken the Lakers to two straight NBA Finals appearances with out O'Neal and presumably defeated the best phenom since Michael Jordan in LeBron James.

He averaged 26.8 points, five assists, and five rebounds per game for the ninth straight season, dating all the way back to the '99-'00 season and led the Los Angeles Lakers to the best record and the top overall seed in the Western Conference for the second consecutive season.

Bryant could go out a winner, something he has been almost his entire career, and if he elects to do so, I would not be surprised. I would be disappointed, along with millions of fans worldwide, but not surprised.

Bryant's played 13 seasons (all with the Lakers) and has three championship rings as a part of the legendary three-peat along with Shaquille O'Neal and head coach Phil Jackson. He has an upcoming documentary coming that will be shown Saturday on ESPN about his journey as a basketball player, directed by acclaimed director Spike Lee I might add.

If this is the end, I will give my salute now. Farewell, Kobe you have been great!