Kobe Bryant's season-long retirement tour may only have a couple of months left before it makes its final pit-stop at the Staples Center against the Utah Jazz on April 13. Still, wherever the legendary figure passes through, there's fresh questions for the shooting guard to face.
The Black Mamba sat out for the whole of the second half of the L.A Lakers 117-107 loss at the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, but following the defeat, Kobe was asked about another aging great who is rumored to be contemplating calling it a day.
Kobe spoke to The Denver Post about 40-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning, who after just leading the Denver Bronco's to their third Super Bowl and his second, is debating whether to go out at the very top or to continue playing.
The Lakers great doesn't feel there's any one time someone has to retire and that it's a very personal decision.
“I was very fortunate to be able to have that epiphany and feel very comfortable and at peace at it,” Bryant said. “If I was kind of teeter-tottering, I never would have announced it. I would still keep playing, because that means I’m not ready to let go yet.”
From one winner to another, Kobe appears delighted that Manning has been able to reach the success he has in the twilight of his career and took great pleasure on watching a fellow veteran succeed.
“I’ve followed Peyton’s process from Day One and how he prepares, and hopefully, I can find something I can learn from,” Bryant said. “I couldn’t be any happier for him with how he performed this season, winning the Super Bowl when everyone said he was done.”
It's easy to see how the 37-year-old can resonate with Manning far beyond their similar ages. Bryant loves proving the critics wrong, and that's exactly what Manning did by leading the Broncos to the Super Bowl this season.
Whether this is Manning's final hurrah or not remains to be seen. However, for Bryant, this term has been the polar opposite for his Lakers as they struggle at the foot of the Western Conference, sporting a record of 12-50.
At his peak, Bryant averaged around 35 points a game and although this season has seen him produce numbers like 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists, his career averages of 25.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists are far more reflective of his towering presence in the NBA.
Bryant has undoubtedly done it all and with the Lakers in the midst of a rebuild, it makes more sense than ever to walk away and rest his weary, well-travelled body.
Will Manning make be content to walk away with a Super Bowl ring at 40-years-old?