Editor's note: Kobe Bryant announced he'll retire at the end of this season on Sunday in a letter on The Players Tribune. This post originally ran four weeks ago when it first became apparent his time in the NBA might be winding down -- and it makes even more sense now that we know Bryant will soon have a lot more free time on his hands.
In case you haven't been following the beginning of the NBA season, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is off to an awful start. How bad are things in L.A.? Even the super-confident superstar gave this brutal assessment of his play on Sunday night.
"I'm the 200th-best player in the league right now. . . . I freaking suck."
Based on how off his shooting has been (31.3 percent on a whopping 51 field goal attempts in just 82 minutes played) during the Lakers 0-3 start, Bryant probably isn't too far off with his ranking. Not that we should be too surprised considering Kobe's age. Bryant is an ancient 37 in NBA terms. He's playing in a record 20th season for one team, and he's coming off season-ending surgeries the past three years. It's sad to watch, but even the all-time greats slow down eventually.
There are a lot of people wondering, "Can Kobe turn things around?" or "Will Bryant be able to bow out in graceful fashion?" We're more concerned with what he does after basketball.
When Michael Jordan retired from the game, he had golf to fall back on. Kobe? It doesn't seem like he has the same passion for hitting the links. A quick Google search of "Kobe Bryant golf" produces little evidence that Bryant hits the links with any regularity. There's this video of a raw-looking swing from 2011:
There's some serious potential in that athletic 6-foot-6 frame. Then there are these photos from a charity tournament in which Kobe is wearing some sweet-looking Nike warmups/astronaut gear:
On Monday, Bryant was given the day off from practice. Talk about the perfect opportunity to go to the golf course and clear your head. . . But there will be plenty more chances for Bryant to play golf when he finally walks away from the NBA.
Judging by his recent play, that day seems to be rapidly approaching. So, Kobe, do yourself a favor and start preparing by getting fitted for clubs and calling your local pro for some lessons. Just hold off on setting up a game with MJ for awhile. We hear he's pretty ruthless on the course.