Kobe Bryant has long looked up to Michael Jordan and emulated his game.
They have been compared for their playing styles, scoring dominance, and championship achievements — five titles for Bryant, six for Jordan.
So before entering his 20th NBA season and the final year of his contract, Kobe sought advice from Jordan about retiring, which he announced on Sunday.
Bryant admitted after Sunday’s a game, a 107-103 Lakers loss to the Pacers, that he has been talking to Jordan frequently, and that Jordan was one of the first people he reached out to about the decision.
“[Jordan] is actually one of the first people that I told over the summer. We’ve been in frequent contact,” Bryant said.
“We had some laughs, went back and forth about it. But the important thing for him, he said, ‘Just enjoy it. No matter what, just enjoy it. Don’t let anybody take that away from you, no matter what happens, good or bad. Enjoy it, man.'”
The writing has been on the wall for Kobe, who’s career has been much longer than Jordan’s. Kobe is shooting a career-worst 30.5% shooting and 20% three-point shooting. He’s dealt with injuries for several seasons, and this year, his body looks sapped of his usual explosiveness and strength.
Kobe, however, seems happy with the decision. He joked that he’s now a “triple vet” compared to younger players in the locker room. He also explained why he’s not saddened by the decision to retire:
“It’s going through the cycle. It’s the natural progression of growth and maturation. There’s no sadness in that. I’ve had so many great times. I see the beauty in not being able to blow past defenders anymore. I see the beauty in getting up in the morning and being in pain, because I know all the hard work that it took to get to this point. I’m not sad about it. I’m very appreciative of what I’ve had.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.