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Kobe Bryant Comments on Michael Jordan, Retirement and More

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2015

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant smiles as he jogs to the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Following Kobe Bryant's announcement of his retirement from professional basketball effective at the end of the 2015-16 season on the Players' Tribune, the Los Angeles Lakers legend discussed his decision and much more Wednesday.

ABCNews.com provided a clip of his interview with Robin Roberts of Good Morning America, which shed some light on his departure from the game of basketball:

The 37-year-old future Hall of Famer made mention of "knowing" it was time to step away, and described an epiphany he had during his morning meditation sessions:

You know, going through my entire career, I've never really understood what athletes meant when they said, 'You—when you know you know.' But now I certainly understand it ... So once I knew this was it, might as well say it.

[...] 

I try to have at least 15 minutes of still time and just kind of sit in my thoughts in the morning and just kind of meditate. And normally what happens with me is my mind would always drift to the game. Always. And then I found myself sitting there. My mind wouldn't drift towards the game all the time anymore. And that's when I started realizing, 'You know what? It's getting close. It's getting close.' Because now I'm not obsessively thinking about the game anymore. It's not wired into my subconscious the way it used to be.

The 17-time All Star also admitted that injuries piling up over the past few seasons played a role in his choice to hang up the sneakers after 20 NBA seasons:

It was something that kind of evolved over the last three years, you know, with the Achilles injury, that really frightened me. Because you know, it was like, 'My career could be over now.' It scared me. 'What am I going do next?' sort of thing. So I took that time to start trying to figure that out.

[...] 

And it was just like, 'Oh my,' this is one thing after the next, you know? And so it was kind of a slow three-year process of kind of evolving to get to where I am.

While few have had a better career than Bryant, he acknowledged that he didn't accomplish all his goals despite being widely recognized as one of the greatest winners the sport has ever seen:

No. No. I wanted eight championships, as a dreamy kid, growing up ... I wanted eight.

Because Magic (Johnson) had five. And then Michael (Jordan) had six. And then I said, 'Okay, I'm going to win eight.' And had the opportunity to have seven and didn't work out. But that was my—that was my childhood dream was to try to win eight (championships)—how ridiculous does that sound?

Bryant's mention of Jordan was interesting since the Black Mamba was constantly compared to His Airness over the course of his time in the NBA.

Kobe deemed the comparisons an honor, although he wouldn't go so far as to predict who would ultimately come out on top in a one-on-one battle between himself and Jordan:

To be mentioned in the same breath as those players, honestly, to me is—I mean, that's everything. I mean, we'll sit and debate endlessly who was better, who would win in a one-on-one matchup between myself and M.J. And you can debate that till the cows come home.

[...]

Oh, he would win some. I would win some.

While Bryant may not have reached the same level as Jordan, it is fair to say that nobody has ever come closer.

The 2015-16 season has been a struggle for Kobe, as have the past few years in general, but he will long be remembered for all the triumphs he achieved during his time in the NBA.

Even Jordan eventually came to the conclusion that he was no longer the same player he once was before retiring, and while it may have taken Kobe a bit longer than most, he earned the right to go out on his terms.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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