After 20 years in the NBA, Los Angeles Lakers star and future Basketball Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant is calling it a career and undergoing a retirement tour for the anti-Showtime Lakers. Kobe announced his retirement earlier this week with an entry on The Players’ Tribune, but Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade got a little advance notice of that decision.
Prior to the Nov. 11 game in Miami between Wade’s Heat and Kobe’s Lakers, the two spent some time together talking the day before the game in the Heat’s training room. Bryant, oddly enough, was there soaking in the ice tub when Wade made his way in. Wade was stunned to see an opposing player getting access to the Heat’s facilities.
But as the story told by Rachel Nichols suggests, Kobe is a rare breed around the NBA and he gets treated a bit differently than most players in the league. From Nichols on Twitter:
Way too long for 140 characters, but here’s the Kobe story Dwyane Wade told me: This was last month, the night before the Heat hosted the Lakers here in Miami. Wade decided to stop by the arena and get in a soak in the cold tub. He goes through the Heat’s locker room area, back over to the training room, and who is already just sitting there in the tub…Kobe Bryant. Wade told me in the 13 years he’s played for the Heat, he’s never ever seen Pat Riley let an opposing player into the inner sanctum like that, using the team’s facilities, and that frankly, he was shocked. Of course, that’s the respect that Kobe has earned, and the two old friends had a great, long talk. At the end of it, Kobe asked Dwyane if his sons were coming to the game the next night. Dwyane said no, as it was a school night, and Kobe said, ‘you know what, bring them, I think it’s going to be my last time here.’ Dwyane brought the boys, they got a lifetime memory after the game taking pictures with Kobe, and the Wade family got a little sneak-preview of Kobe’s retirement announcement before anyone else.
The Heat defeated the Lakers, 111-88, but Kobe did not play in the game. By the way, Bryant and Wade played together on Team USA in the 2008 Olympics, winning the gold medal together by defeating Spain.