GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Will this be Kobe Bryant's last season in the NBA?
Phil Jackson thinks a farewell tour may be a bit premature.
“I don’t think it’s his last year,” Jackson said at a Knicks news conference when asked about his former star guard. “It sounds like it may be his last year as a Laker.”
Jackson, who coached Bryant for 11 seasons with the Lakers, said he recently wished Bryant a happy birthday. Bryant turned 37 on Aug. 23.
The Knicks’ president also believes Bryant, entering his 20th year in the league, will have a better season than most might think.
“One of the things about great players -- there’s a part of me that kind of wishes maybe Michael Jordan had said goodbye to basketball after that shot in Utah. But you see the game and the speed of the game becomes something that you’re used to, and you can handle as the activity, speed, how many things are coming at you at once,” Jackson said. “But your body fails you. That’s the denominator there. It’s gotta be comeuppance from God or from age.
“So with Kobe, he’s had, what? Two seasons that have been aborted because of injuries. I think he’s going to be really better than people think, and I think there will still be a future for him as he goes through this season into next year, where people are going to ask, ‘Do you still want to play basketball?’ So we’ll see how it goes.”
Knicks head coach Derek Fisher isn’t ready to see his former longtime Lakers teammate hang it up just yet.
“I just want him to be healthy, basically, and then go from there,” Fisher said. “I, personally, wouldn’t like this to be his last year playing basketball. I don’t think the game of basketball deserves for him not to play.”