After Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers officially announced his intention to retire following the 2015-16 NBA season, the farewell tour is officially underway with teams around the league and his peers expressing their appreciation for the future Hall of Famer.
One-time NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks was one of many stars in the NBA to talk recently about Bryant’s legacy. Nowitzki, who is also nearing the end of his basketball career, believes Bryant announcing his plans will be a lift off his shoulders.
The 18-year veteran also admitted that Kobe is probably the greatest player he’s ever gone up against on the basketball floor via Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:
“I’m happy for him that he made that decision for himself,” he said. “It could lift a little weight off his shoulder. To me, he’s probably the greatest player I’ve faced. And I’ve faced some great players with Tim Duncan and Shaq and all these guys. But he was something else, just scoring-wise, the shot-making ability was incredible. I was always a big fan. But it’s disappointing that we’re all getting old.”
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle also expressed a similar sentiment about coaching against Bryant over the years. Carlisle seems to have nothing but respect for the five-time NBA champion saying the following about Kobe announcing his retirement plans via Sefko:
“My take on the whole thing is that this is an ending in one respect, but he’s preparing for world dominance in some other area of the game,” Carlisle said. “I’m quite certain of that. I have as much respect for him as an opposing player as any player I’ve ever played against or coached against. When that guy walks in the building, you got a lot of problems to deal with. And you got a guy that’s a cold-blooded killer when it comes to winning time. We wish him the best, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere. He’ll be around either owning a team or running a team. If he’s smart, he won’t coach. And I think he’s pretty smart.”
Nowitzki and Carlisle will likely be one of many veteran coach and player tandems around the league that’ll express their admiration for the Lakers superstar over the next few months. Byrant’s last regular-season game on April 13 against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center.
The Lakers will play the Mavericks two more times this season with the team hosting Carlisle’s squad on Nov. 1 and Bryant playing his final game at American Airlines Center on Nov. 13.