There's more than one way to go about a Hall of Fame NBA career and, as Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant proved, there's more than one way to end one. While neither player's exit could be deemed inherently good or bad, most people seem to agree that these two were very different.
Kobe Bryant will indeed retire as a Laker. The face of the franchise has signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension that will make him the highest-paid player in the league each season, according to reports.
After raising the possibility earlier this week, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers made it official on Friday afternoon — Bryant will return to the L.A. lineup this Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. ET against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center, just under eight months after suffering a torn left Achilles tendon.
Bryant and the Lakers made the announcement via Facebook with this must-be-seen-to-be-believed video:
Duncan finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds, becoming the oldest player with 20 points and 20 rebounds since the NBA began keeping track of rebounds during the 1985-86 season.
Having only played in six of the Los Angeles Lakers' first 43 games this season, Kobe Bryant does not feel he is deserving of his starting All-Star bid and plans to sit out the Feb. 16 game in New Orleans.
However it happens, whenever it happens, we know one thing about Tim Duncan's impending retirement -- it's gonna be boring.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was examined by team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo on Friday, and it was determined the 18-year veteran will be sidelined another three weeks before being re-evaluated because of continued pain, swelling and soreness in his injured left knee.
Bryant, 35, has been sidelined since Dec. 17 with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in the knee.
Bryant, in an exclusive interview with ESPN, revealed that he has formed his own company called Kobe Inc....
"We want to own and help grow brands and ideas that challenge and redefine the sports industry while inspiring," Bryant said. "If it doesn't have the limbs of the sports industry, which I understand extremely well, then I probably won't touch it."
Duncan: "I heard a baby in his room. There was somebody or something in his room, yeah. I definitely heard something. It wasn't creepy, because I assumed it was really somebody in the room, and they gave him the wrong room. But when they told me the story the next day about calling up there and no one in the room, it's at that point you get chills. I totally agreed with him. There was a baby there, absolutely. I heard about the history of the place, and I'd rather not (stay there again)."
While the Lakers prepared for their last game of the season, Kobe Bryant was already beginning his off-season. Bryant went to France with family members either Tuesday or Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times has learned. The Lakers conclude their season Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs.
Bryant later tweeted he was trying to forget what happened this season:
Everywhere you turned in this joyous place, there was somebody marveling about his part in this incredible Spurs play. How does a 38-year-old who looked so close to his end just a few years ago pull off such a stunt, not only finishing the championship run that they'd started back when Bill Clinton was in office, but also playing the same epicenter role that he did back then?
The five-time NBA Champions and former Most Valuable Player is one of those cheering on some globes finest at the 2014 FIFA World Cup BrazilTM, having already attended the FIFA Confederation Cup Brazil 2013 last year.
"Well, I'm a shooting guard that's played 19 years," he said, shrugging and smiling. He later added, "Like I said, 'shooting' guard, 19th year."
Sources told ESPN.com that Bryant will miss the rest of the season if it is determined he needs surgery. There is strong concern within the organization that is indeed the case, the sources said.
From the moment
I started rolling my dad's tube socks
And shooting imaginary
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:
I fell in love with you.
A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.
I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that's what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you've made me feel.
Seeing what Duncan has been able to accomplish, and how he has been able to accomplish it, has helped turn the tide against the antiquated — and dangerous — notion that "manliness" correlates with playing through severe injury.
"I think it's an understanding. I think people are finally starting to come around and not worry about the machismo part of it, where you just want to be out there and grind it out," Duncan told Yahoo Sports. "Bottom line is, you want your team to get to the playoffs and once that time comes, you want to be as fresh as possible."
Kobe Bryant scored 60 incredible points. He carried a miserable Los Angeles Lakers team to an improbable comeback victory.
And with sweat and confetti all over his gold uniform for the final time, he expressed humble thanks to his fans and family for their loving support over two decades.
"What else can I say?" Bryant asked. "Mamba out."
"I'll get to that after I get out of here," Duncan said in the locker room...
SI.com will create an animated film based on the NBA star's retirement poem
Chants of "Kobe, Kobe, Kobe" rang out in the audience when it was Bryant's turn. And the legendary NBA player may be retired from the game, but if his speech was any indication, he's not done yet.
"I believe there's time for resting at the end, but for me, that time is not now," he concluded.
"I felt an impressive 17 for 65 season would be a bold way to wrap up my 20-year career," Bryant joked, comparing his less-than-speculator final season with Manning and Wambach's strong exits.
No big news conference. No victory lap. Not even a canned quote in the news release. Just a simple goodbye on Monday from the quiet anchor at the foundation of the San Antonio Spurs dynasty.
Tim Duncan statement pic.twitter.com/W5VxFAmev0— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) July 13, 2016
The league couldn't have scripted a starker contrast of personalities to dominate the game in the post-MJ years. Their divergent final chapters were undeniably on brand, and there's at least one fanbase that wouldn't have had it any other way.