Kobe Bryant’s season is over…for the third year in a row.

The Los Angeles Lakers icon is expected to miss the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff, according to various sources including ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne. Bryant injured himself dunking the ball in the second half of the game against the New Orleans Pelicans (Here’s the dunk).

After getting a second opinion, Bryant will take the weekend to decide if surgery will be the next step, with the final decision coming on Monday. Various sources have said Bryant has dealt with this injury since the preseason. Bryant has had history with this shoulder (torn labrum) before having surgery back in 2003.

Now that Bryant is done for the season…again, the question is…

Should Kobe Bryant retire?

This is not going to be a popular choice to many NBA fans but here it goes…

OH MY GOD! RETIRE!

This is not to say that Bryant cannot still play this game. He is considered as one of the top ten players in NBA history. This is the only player that Michael Jordan will even allow himself to be compared to. There is no reason why Bryant won’t have the surgery, go through the extensive rehab and collect that $25 million the Lakers owe him. Knowing the competitive spirit of a guy that has played 19 years and has the respect of the entire NBA and it’s fans (Bryant was voted to his 17th straight All-Star game) he’ll be back.

But here’s why he shouldn’t:

1) The title window is closed, locked and the security alarm is now on.

Hoping for #6

Sure, the sexy thing to report is Bryant is sticking around for the love of the game. Bull. If you believe that, you’ll believe that statue is me in front of the Staples Center. Yeah, that’s me. I’m the guy next to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the number 32 jersey on. Bryant is staying around for one reason… ring number six, tying him with Jordan for NBA championships won.

The Lakers were in position to make that happen when they brought in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Obviously with the career-ending nerve injury to Nash and Howard spurning the Lakers contract extension and bolting to Houston, title aspirations died.

The last chance for the Lakers to get Bryant that ring was in free agency when they sent fliers to Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and LeBron James this past summer. After they all passed, right along with Pau Gasol racing out of L.A. like he was released from prison, the Lakers became a lottery team and priorities changed.

Speaking of priorities…

2) The franchise and Kobe Bryant have different priorities.

Draft Lottery

The Lakers stink. Guess what? That’s the plan. The Lakers know they are going nowhere. Mr. Earvin Johnson has gone on record saying the Lakers need to lose as many games as possible. Well Bryant did not get the memo.

You see the Lakers gave Bryant that large contract for a reason. They knew the team had to blow everything up and start over. Bryant was supposed to take the money, mentor young players and slide into the ambassador’s role leading into retirement, but he had other ideas.

What makes Bryant so great is now the Lakers biggest problem. Bryant is too competitive to start tanking games especially this late in his career. He knew this team was not good enough to be competitive. That’s why he was shooting at an alarming rate. Most of the time, it was to no avail, averaging 22.3 points per game on a career low 37.3 percent clip.

If you paid attention to Bryant’s interview when he was held out to rest, there were signs that there was trouble in paradise between he and coach Byron Scott. Kobe mentioned he had to find a way to play with his teammates and work within the offense.

That explanation from the Lakers is a smokescreen. The Lakers have a top five protected lottery pick. They MUST have a top five pick in next year’s draft to keep it. If they drop to six or below, they lose that pick to Phoenix, thanks to that Steve Nash trade. If the Lakers lose the pick to Phoenix along with Kobe Bryant’s career ending maybe next year, it sends the franchise back years.

3) If Kobe Bryant is a student of Michael Jordan…study his years in Washington.

KB/MJ

This is not to say that Jordan did not play well in Washington, because he did, but he was in the same boat with the talent of the roster. What gets lost in Jordan’s tenure in Washington was that he cleared a ton of salary cap space getting rid of Rod Strickland, Mitch Richmond and Juwan Howard, who had the mother lode of bad contracts off the books. In his two years playing, Jordan could not will his team to the  playoffs in either of his two years. Couple that with knee tendonitis, it was a failed experiment. Both players had the same passion, but the circumstances and their bodies would not allow them to get over the hump.

Look NBA fans, Bryant will be back next season. Why? Roughly $25 million tend to keep players around. Plus, Bryant wants to go out a certain way and shooting a left hand shot does not make the list of choices.

However, if a title is one of the reasons, Kobe should make a deal with the Lakers and retire or look for a trade for one last chance.

 

 

Sound off: Should Kobe Bryant retire after this latest injury or attempt to play out the remainder of his contract upon return?

 

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