Kobe Bryant says 2013-14 season will be his last with Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) waits for the ball to be in-bounded against the Sacramento Kings in the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Lakers defeated the Kings 103-98. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) could be walking off into the sunset after the 2013-14 NBA season. (Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)

Kobe Bryant recently passed Wilt Chamberlain as the fourth-most prolific scorer in the history of the NBA. As a five-time league champion, there is no longer any doubt to this living legend’s place amongst the greatest to ever play the game of basketball.

Unfortunately for Lakers and NBA fans everywhere, it takes a long, highly decorated career to accomplish the things that Bryant has done.

It takes commitment, and it takes the type of sacrifice 99.9-percent of the people walking this planet will never understand — but it also takes a lot of ice. The bumps, bruises and broken bones suffered by Bryant over the years have begun to really wear on Bryant’s 34-year old body.

Thus, he told reporters that the end is very near for Bryant’s NBA career. It has been nearly two decades since a Lakers team had to compete without Bryant, but it is something both fans and members of the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office must now mentally prepare themselves for.

“We’ll talk,” Bryant said after piling up 19 points, 14 assists against one turnover and nine rebounds while playing all but 23 seconds of the 103-98 victory over the Kings at Sleep Train Arena. “I’ll talk to my family and stuff and really see if I want to continue to sacrifice as much as I’m sacrificing right now. I’m putting my body through a lot to just try to get ready to play every single night. To do what I’m doing right now, it’s not easy. I’ll tell you, it’s taken a lot of commitment.”

Is your sense that next season will be your last?

“As I sit here right now, yeah.”

Is there anything the Lakers can say that would make it more likely you played beyond next season?

“No,” Bryant told NBA.com. “It’s my decision. It’s really about what I want to do, if I want to train and be psychotic with my training. That’s what it comes down to. It’s really how I’m feeling physically.”

Kobe is chasing one last championship ring, in order to bring his total to six — the same number as the one and only Michael Jordan.

Now, it sounds like he is only going to have two more opportunities to make that happen.

h/t: NBA.com, Full Court Pumps

How competitive is Kobe? Check out his venting after spraining his ankle