Whether or not Kobe Bryant will come back to the Los Angeles Lakers when his contract is up next year is something that is on the mind of every fan.
When the Black Mamba has games like the one he did against the Portland Trailblazers on Wednesday night, I often think to myself that I need to remember every moment like that because it may be the last time I see him do something similar.
Like when my dad tells me about Magic Johnson's heyday and sends me clips on YouTube because I was too young to see him play.
There's no doubt that when Bryant retires, it will be closing a chapter in the history of the franchise, and sadly that day may only be a year away.
Bryant recently talked about how long he'll play for, and he said:
"I can probably play another five years. I'm not saying I'm going to play five years...but physically I could play... Right now, no. It might change but right now, no. It's too much... I had a really good summer. I was able to strengthen and condition my body. I didn't have any injuries. I think the Olympic team - the experience helped out a lot because I was able to kind of play and stay in rhythm but still wasn't overtaxing my body. Obviously the diet and shedding weight and all that fun stuff - the ice baths. It's a lot of commitment."
The Lakers have made it clear that they want to leave the organization in Dwight Howard's hands, and there's no doubt he would like that. It may be one of the only reasons that he resigns with the Lakers because they weren't on his top lists of teams, but with Bryant potentially retiring, it would give Howard a time to shine.
Bryant is often criticized for how many shots he takes, and when he takes that many attempts, Howard doesn't get the ball in the paint as much as he should. He may be willing to suck it up and play “Kobe Ball” if he knows he only has to do it for one more year.
It's still bittersweet, as Pau Gasol said after the Portland game, because Bryant had a spectacularly memorable night, but there was definitely less ball movement than there should be.
I'm a shameless Bryant fan (I may or may not own four of his jerseys) , though I totally understand and respect all the arguments against him, so it will be hard to see him retire, especially knowing there's gas left in the tank. However, at some point the torch needs to be passed, and that point is rapidly approaching.