Kobe Bryant admits that retirement has crossed his mind

NBA

Much of Kobe Bryant's career has been defined by his fierce competitiveness and machine-like approach to hearsay and speculation. But as his time in the NBA comes to a close, Bryant has looked and acted surprisingly human.

Bryant still has a year left on his 2-year, $48.5 million deal. A younger, more youthful Bryant would not entertain the idea of discussing his next step, but now at 36 years old he can at least admit that the dreaded "R word" has crossed his mind, if only for a brief moment.

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From Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke:  When asked whether he has considered retiring at the end of this season, one year before the end of his Lakers contract, he nods his head in agreement.

"I'd be lying if I said that it hasn't crossed my mind,'' he tells The Times. "Right now I doubt it … but anything's possible.''

He emphasizes the right now (because, right now, the reality is so muddled and difficult that even the Black Mamba is having trouble wrapping his mind around it.

My body is hurting like crazy, around the clock, and if I don't want to do this anymore, I won't do it,'' he says.

Bryant has played in 34 of the Lakers' 41 games this season, and as the season progresses his playing time with continue to be monitored, with head coach Byron Scott mentioning that the organization has debated shutting him down if and when they are officially out of playoff contention.

The Lakers are 12-29 and  have lost four consecutive games, with Bryant

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missing two of them due to rest.

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