Kobe Bryant received a standing ovation from basketball-loving fans in Mile High City on Wednesday. Even though his Los Angeles Lakers lost 117-107 to the Denver Nuggets, Bryant received a courteous send-off from otherwise hostile fans he had tormented over the years with countless clutch shots and fourth quarter daggers.
After the game, Bryant soaked in the emotions and thanked the Denver crowd for thunderous chants of “K-O-B-E.” The Lakers legend acknowledged that the time was right to hang up the boots, a decision staring Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the face.
“I was very fortunate to be able to have that epiphany and feel very comfortable and at peace at it (the retirement decision),” a relieved Bryant said. “If I was kind of teeter-tottering, I never would have announced it. I would still keep playing, because that means I’m not ready to let go yet,” added Bryant, who never fully recovered from the Achilles injury he suffered few years ago.
Bryant said that when he made the decision, he intended to celebrate his career with the rest of the world. The rest of the world hasn’t been disappointed, embracing Bryant’s greatness and showering him with the appreciation that very few deserve.
Kobe Bryant looked to Peyton as a role model…
Bryant, 37, can relate to what Manning is going through. “You can’t make these decisions on outside influences or successes or failures. It’s a very personal decision, very emotional decision, so you have to make that from within. You can’t cheat the game,” said the Purple & Gold star.
Bryant revealed that he looked up to Manning as a role model, especially for the manner in which the NFL star prepared for each game. “I’ve followed Peyton’s process from Day One and how he prepares, and hopefully I can find something I can learn from. I couldn’t be any happier for him with how he performed this season, winning the Super Bowl when everyone said he was done.”
Apparently, Manning is in no mood to retire. On Wednesday, he cracked a joke about a rumored retirement announcement. “Many of you have probably heard that I have a significant announcement to make, so I thought I’d go ahead and make it with all of you here tonight. Papa John’s is offering 50 percent off tonight through Friday.”
Kobe Bryant is retiring amidst a gala farewell tour. Does Manning intend do the same? If yes, the next NFL season could turn into the “Peyton Manning Farewell Tour.”