Kobe Bryant Admits He’s Capable of Playing ‘Another 5 Years’

Kobe Bryant has taken a Dwight Howard-like approach to disclosing any information about his retirement.

The Black Mamba has remained wildly capricious when assessing his imminent future. Depending on his mood, he's either hanging up his kicks for good after next season or playing until he's 40.

And nothing has changed.

Per Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com, the NBA's fourth-leading scorer of all time believes he could play another five years.

You've got to give Kobe this: He's consistently inconsistent. There's just no reading the man.

On the one hand, he's one of, if not the most fiercely competitive player in the league. Someone you could envision playing until his legs fall off or the Los Angeles Lakers stop signing his checks. On the other, he's 34, has logged the 12th-most minutes in NBA history and has played through more injuries than Shaquille O'Neal and Howard have missed free throws. Combined.

Could Bryant's body realistically hold up for another five years? Will he really play that much longer, or even close to it?

Before you answer, remember that Kobe isn't about to continue his career in a Jason Kidd-like or even Michael Jordan-esque capacity. He's not going to come off the bench or be anything less than Ice Mamba-ish if he continues to play. He's too proud, too conscious of his legacy and standing in the league. This is the same player who remained steadfast in his declaration that the Lakers were still his team, three perennial All-Star teammates be damned.

Knowing this, we must then ask ourselves: Can Bryant play at a high level for the next five years? 

His refusal to yield to injuries of any kind suggests no. The sheer fire he operates on implies otherwise.

Bryant is presently averaging 27 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game, the latter of which is a career high. That he can still se...

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