Lakers coach shocked by Bryant retirement
Kobe Bryant’s decision to call it quits came as a shock to Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott, who thought the five-time NBA champion could have played another season.
Bryant, 37, announced his retirement on Sunday, effective at the end of his 20th and final season.
Regarded as one basketball’s greatest ever, the 17-time All-Star is in the midst of a career-worst slump as the Lakers (2-13) boast the league’s second-worst win-loss record.
Despite the Lakers’ struggles, Scott said he was surprised when Bryant revealed his intentions.
“We talked about it last night. I told him he kind of shocked me when he told me. It’s more sad than anything,” Scott said before the Lakers faced the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
“I don’t know if he had more years left in him. I thought he at least had another year left in him.
“Somebody who I truly care about, have a lot of respect for. I think it’s always hard when greatness like Kobe decides to hang it up.
“I think, for him, going through the stress that we’re going through and also that we still have sixty-whatever games left – you get a chance to go around to all these NBA cities, and they can show their appreciation for what he’s been able to accomplish in this league is great [to see].”
On his initial reaction when Bryant broke the news, Scott added: “I said, ‘What?’ He just told me at a very awkward time. It kind of caught me off guard. He just started laughing about it.
“He said, ‘You look like: What the hell are you talking about?” It just caught me off guard.”