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Kobe Bryant Comments on Possibility of Playing in NBA Next Season

Mike Norris@@MikeNorrisBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2015

Nov 15, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) brings the ball up court during the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant told SiriusXM on Thursday that "if something doesn't change," the 2015-16 NBA season will be his last (h/t Frank Isola of the New York Daily News).   

Bryant is a 17-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer, but injuries and declining production are clearly leading to the end of his career.  

His scoring has dropped three of the past four seasons, and he played in just 41 games in two seasons prior to this year because of injuries.

To make matters worse—and what has to be eating at the ultra-competitive Bryant—the Lakers have not made the playoffs the past two seasons and are on pace for 15 wins after a 2-9 start this year.

Just 11 days ago on Nov. 8, Bryant said 2015-16 could be his last year but was not ready to make it definitive, per Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com.

"If you asked me today, this would be my last year. But you never know," said Bryant, who is in the final year of his deal with the Lakers. "We'll keep it open. Whatever happens, happens."

His latest comments have to stem from the fact his 37-year-old body is starting to give way to Father Time. He's played in just eight of the Lakers' 11 games and was ailing Sunday before sitting out for the third time in five games Monday, per Baxter.

This tweet from SportsCenter summed up just how tough it's been for him this season:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Kobe Bryant is not playing in tonight's game vs Suns. He has sat out 3 of the last 4 games. https://t.co/HaRuRDJbNA https://t.co/lFvDRovxBY

In early November, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reported the 20-year veteran expressed his interest in playing for Team USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. However, the grind of an 82-game season is clearly starting to take effect on the five-time champion.

He's averaged 36.5 minutes per game for his career and is down to 30.4 this year, which still may be too much.

Micah Peters of USA Today wrote about Kobe's situation Thursday and said this should be his last season: "He’s had a Hall of Fame career, but he’s right; it’s about that time."

It doesn't make much sense for Kobe to keep playing—other than the fact he is one of the most competitive athletes in professional sports. It's all he's done his whole life, and he's not been one to let anyone or anything else dictate his terms.

However, there isn't much to suggest the inexperienced Lakers will be competing any time soon in a crowded Western Conference.

Bryant will go down as one of the best ever. Along with his five titles, he's played in two other NBA Finals, was a member of 16 Lakers playoff teams and was named the 2007-08 NBA MVP.

If this is it for the NBA's third all-time leading scorer, it's been a heck of a ride. 

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