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Kobe Bryant Told Byron Scott About Retirement During Game vs. Trail Blazers

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2015

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) talks with head coach Byron Scott as while coming out of an NBA basketball game in the second half against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 111-95. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott said Friday that Kobe Bryant informed him of his decision to retire at season's end in the middle of a recent loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN passed along comments from Scott, who admitted the seemingly out-of-nowhere declaration caught him off guard. The former Lakers guard, who played alongside Bryant during the late 1990s, explained it came during a routine conversation after halftime Saturday.

"I said, 'KB, I played you 20 minutes in the first half. I'm going to cut those minutes down. I've got to cut them down,'" Scott said. "He said, 'That's good, coach. That's all right. I'm going to announce my retirement after the game.'"

His reaction was a state of disbelief that stuck with him for the rest of the contest, which the Lakers lost 108-96, with Bryant scoring 21 points.

"I said, 'What?!'" Scott told ESPN. "That was the shock part. I was in that state for the rest of the game. Even when I was watching him play [and] I was watching him running up and down, I'm going, 'Did he just tell me [that]?'"

The Lakers legend wasn't bluffing. The next day he published a poem on the Players' Tribune, making his plans public.

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Scott also explained to ESPN the amazing level of calm the five-time NBA champion showed in making such a life-altering decision.

"He was at peace when he told me," Scott said. "That's the only thing I could say. During that game, when I was watching him and putting him [in the game] and taking him out, that's the most relaxed and at peace that I've ever seen him."

Perhaps the peaceful response is because Bryant finally had a definitive timetable in his mind. He's played nothing like his usual All-Star self over the past three years, as all of the mileage started to take a cumulative toll on his body and frequentlyย kept him on the sidelines.

This season, he's averaging just 16.8 points while shooting 31 percent from the field in 15 games. His competitive fire has always set him apart from the crowd, but the physical nature of the game no longer comes as easily as it did during the prime of his career.

By telling his coach, albeit at an odd time, and then the world about his decision, he can go back to trying to enjoy the game again without being consistently asked when he's going to call it quits.ย 

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