Could the End Be Near for Kobe Bryant? Revealing TV Interview Makes It Seem so

LOS ANGELES — The days of complaining about Kobe are over.

Ball hog. Taking an All-Star spot away from someone more deserving. Shoots too much. Shaq. Dwight. The lame Lakers being on national TV too much…

When Bryant comes back next, it will be the last hurrah.

Condemning him won't be cool anymore. For the first time in his very complex, very criticized career, Bryant will be in line to be pretty uniformly celebrated.

He hasn't made concrete his plan to retire after next season, but it is the plan. So this time next year, the All-Star Game in Toronto is shaping up as a celebration of Kobe, past and present—because there likely won't be a future.

That is the vibe in NBA TV's Kobe: The Interview, an hour-long special that will air at 9 p.m. ET Monday. Ahmad Rashad and Bryant literally walk through some memory lanes, reflecting on still photographs of Bryant's career hanging on the walls of the Coastline Art Gallery in Newport Beach, California.

The interview was filmed just after Bryant found out about the long recovery ahead for the torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder: "I just did this! I just did this! Nine months. I just did nine months. And I gotta do it again," he said.

In an advance showing provided to Bleacher Report, Bryant clarified to Rashad that it was not a new injury suffered when Dante Cunningham bumped his shoulder from behind on Bryant's Jan. 21 dunk. It was an injury that got worse—and prompted Bryant to get an MRI that showed how bad it had become.

"Even now, the strength in my shoulder's good," he said prior to surgery. "It's fine; I can shoot. I've had this pain for a long time, and I've never actually gotten it looked at because the strength was so good."

You can hear in Bryant's words just how much he was tempted to keep playing through the bigger tear. Instead, he succumbed to getting the surgery. And just...

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