Since Kobe Bryant retired following a 60-point performance to conclude the 2015-16 NBA season, it has been the basketball world’s mission to keep him involved in the game.
Despite those efforts, Bryant has refused at every turn to rejoin the sport of basketball — instead opting to focus on his media company, Kobe Inc. and Granity Studios.
Since his retirement, Bryant has written several books, started a podcast for kids, and even won an Oscar for his retirement poem, “Dear Basketball.”
After doing all of this, Bryant still has shown no interest in being a part of basketball again. BIG3 founder Ice Cube even offered for him to join several times, only for him to decline each time.
Cube was extremely persistent with Bryant, especially at the conception of the league. And when Bryant was asked about the odds of him joining the BIG3, his answer was very simple, via Real 92.3’s The Cruz Show with Jeff G. — The Sports Dude:
“[Ice] Cube has been up to the office like even when he first started with the BIG3 and we talked back and forth about it and you know, the answer is always the same: no. There’s no ‘we thinking about it.’ I’m good man, I’m good.”
It’s remarkable to think that Bryant — a man that dedicated over half of his life to the NBA — now wants nothing to do with the sport after leaving it. The closest he’s gotten to it is when he trained with the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Jayson Tatum, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Sadly, it seems that it may be a while — if ever — before Bryant decides he’s ready to be a part of it all again. The saving grace in all of this is that Bryant seems perfectly content with his post-basketball life, something that many former players struggle to say.
Bryant also likely has turned down every chance to return because of his family. Starting in 2016, Bryant was actually able to be a full-time father to his children, which he has four now. With Bryant’s youngest being just two months old, it’s unlikely he would leave to do anything basketball-related any time soon.
As for the BIG3, the league seems to be doing just fine without the presence of Bryant. After leading his team to a championship for the 2019 season, Joe Johnson may find his way back into the NBA at 39-years-old, which was the initial purpose of the league.
Cube can keep recruiting Bryant, but it’s likely he’ll have to move on and focus on a Bryant-less BIG3.