Kobe Bryant has just announced that he will retire at the end of this season, ending one of the greatest careers in the history of professional basketball.
Kobe has a never-ending list of accomplishments. He’s a five-time champion, two-time Finals MVP, 17-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA First Team (tied with Karl Malone for the most ever), nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection (tied with three other players for the most ever), a two-time Olympic Gold medalist, and the only player ever with more than 30,000 points and 6,000 assists.
Perhaps his most overlooked accomplishment though is the fact he’s spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, something that’s becoming a lost art in sports these days.
From here on out, Kobe will be honored and celebrated every arena he visits, a la Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera before him.
However, a major dilemma could be coming for the NBA. It would be an understatement to say Kobe is having a bad season. He’s having an embarrassingly atrocious season. Out of 118 qualified players, Kobe ranks dead last shooting 30.5 percent from the field, and out of 106 qualified players, ranks dead last shooting 20.2 percent from three.
His stat sheet has routinely been just as ugly. He’s coming off a 4-20 performance against the Pacers, and has had games shooting 1-14, 6-22, 6-19, 4-11, 3-15, and 8-24. Essentially, Kobe has been the worst player in the league this season.
There’s no debate Kobe does not deserve to participate in this year’s All-Star Game, but at the same time, he’s the best player to come around since Jordan, and it would be great for the sports world to send Kobe off one last time on the national stage.
If it was my call, I don’t think you can’t not have Kobe start. He’s a once in a generation player who has earned the right to be celebrated at the NBA’s showcase game.
What I think ends up happening is Kobe does not get selected, but someone will give up their starting spot so Kobe can play, which was the same thing Vince Carter did for Michael Jordan in 2003.