Kobe Bryant and Charles Barkley
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Charles Barkley ‘Hopes’ Kobe Bryant Will Retire After Next Season

Superstar Kobe Bryant will enter his 20th season with the Los Angeles Lakers in October. The five-time NBA champion has one year left on his contract with the team and is coming off three straight season-ending injuries. It’s no secret that the end of his basketball career in the NBA is drawing near.

Although Bryant will likely retire after the 2015-16 NBA season, the Lakers star has left the door open for a return to the hardwood for the 2016-17 campaign in Los Angeles. Bryant will likely base his decision on the state of the Lakers franchise as well as his health after yet another 82-game campaign.

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley recently chimed in on the debate about whether Bryant should walk away from the game after next season. Barkley said the following on SiriusXM NBA Radio recently about Kobe’s immediate future, via Fox Sports:

“I hope he retires, because I don’t want to see — I probably played two years too long. I hate to see Patrick Ewing, great as he was, struggle — I don’t like seeing great players just out there, you know?” Barkley said. “Michael Jordan playing for the Wizards, that didn’t do anything for me. Kobe’s obviously not going to walk away from $30 million. This should be like a farewell tour, play 20, 25 minutes a night. The Lakers aren’t going to make the playoffs. Could he play some more? Yeah, of course. His best days are behind him. I hear these fools on TV, talking about, ‘Kobe’s going to get healthy.’ Old people don’t get healthy; they die. Old people don’t get healthy. Father Time is undefeated. … You can get in great shape in the summer, because you’re playing against air. Air doesn’t hit back.”

Much like Jordan, Bryant isn’t one to walk away from a challenge or a chance to prove all his doubters wrong. If Kobe is able to bounce back with a solid season and the Lakers are competitive, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that he returns for at least one more year.

Kobe did make things interesting moving forward with recently Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo claiming the future Hall of Famer wants to go out on top by winning a gold medal next season in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. If this is true, Bryant may have already made his mind up about his future after the 2015-16 NBA season meaning he will indeed retire.

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