Increasingly, Kobe Bryant has talked about his basketball mortality, seemingly at ease with the reality that his NBA journey is nearing its end. Bryant tells CBS Sports that he has a really hard time picturing himself in the League past the 2013-2014 season: “… Bryant conceded that, in all likelihood, the finish line and the conclusion of his current contract will be one in the same. Bryant has two years left, and though he was careful to point out, ‘One can never be too sure,’ he made it clear in the next breath it’s almost unfathomable he would play beyond 2013-14, which would be his 18th season. ‘It’s just that three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health,’ Bryant said. ‘That’s a lot of years. For a guard? That’s a lot of years.’ Even after visiting the fountain of youth in the form of a knee procedure in Germany that allowed him to average nearly 39 minutes per game last season, Bryant senses that the end is near — and not only for his knees, wrist, ankles or other body parts, but also for his incomparably competitive mind. The window, he is ready to acknowledge, is two years. Two more chances to catch [Michael] Jordan. ‘It’s not about health necessarily,’ he said. ‘It’s about ‘Do I want to do it? Do I have that hunger to continue to prepare at a high level?’ Bill Parcells, a competitive sociopath from another sport, used to say that if you’re talking about retirement, it means you’ve basically already retired. To hear Bryant, the most cutthroat basketball combatant of his generation, speak about the day — the moment — when his smoldering desire to win finally will be extinguished, was something to behold. So much so that the next question — about whether Bryant would ever change his mind and hang on for an extra year or two as a role player averaging 15 points just to pad his championship resume — needn’t have been asked. ‘That’s not gonna happen,’ Bryant said. ‘That’s just not me.'”
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