Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers legend, is just two weeks away from retirement. This season, the NBA world has witnessed an uncharacteristically calmer and gentler version of Bryant.
Even though the iconic shooting guard continues to play the game with the same fire and passion that gave him the moniker of the Black Mamba, Bryant has mellowed down to the point where he hasn’t collected a single technical foul all season – a first in his celebrated 20-year career.
On Sunday, Bryant explained why he stopped arguing with referees over missed calls. “What am I going to get a tech for?” Bryant said after his team’s 101-88 loss to Washington Wizards on Sunday at Staples Center. “We’re not making the playoffs. What is there to be pissed about exactly?”
This is the same Bryant who earned a career-high 16 technical fouls in the 2010-11 season. The Lakers icon, who always exhibited ruthless aggression on the court, picked up a bunch of technicals in 2001-02 (14), 2005-06 (15), 2006-07 (14), 2007-08 (15) and 2009-10 (14).
Kobe Bryant: Still an a**hole
Just when Bryant was done explaining his reason for the lack of technicals, Bryant clarified, “I’m still an asshole. It doesn’t change. It just evolves.”
Bryant’s friendly nature both on and off the court have meant autographed shoes and pep talk for younger players. In recent weeks, the likes of John Wall, Devin Booker and Klay Thompson received autographed shoes from Bryant, who has openly expressed his desire to help his young peers.
According to Lakers coach Byron Scott, Bryant was “a different man” the minute he announced his retirement at the start of the season.
“Once he announced this was it, he’s been different. He’s been more at peace,” said Scott, who was a teammate of Bryant during his rookie season in 1996-1997.
Kobe Bryant will play his final game against Utah Jazz on April 13.