Yesterday, Kobe Bryant officially announced that he will be retiring from the NBA at the conclusion of this season—in iambic pentameter, no less.
It wasn't exactly a surprise. The 37-year-old Lakers star is nearing the end of the ginormous contract extension he signed in 2013, and coming off three years of season-ending injuries is a shell of his former self. Playing against the Blazers at Moda Center on Saturday night, the future Hall of Famer scored 21 points, shooting 7-20 from the field and 1-5 from three-point range—that's one of his better performances of the year so far.
Everyone expected Bryant to confirm at some point that this season would be his last. What's unexpected is that he'd call out an obscure Blazers player while doing it.
Last night, following another woeful game against the Indiana Pacers, Bryant held a press conference after issuing his retirement, um, poem earlier in the day. Toward the end, Bryant was asked about his role as one of the league's eldest statesmen.
I feel like their grandfather. I’m not like the older guy, I’m the triple OG. LeBron (James) and them, they’re the old guys now. And I’m way older than them.They’re vets, and I’m like a triple vet. It’s fun, honestly. I remember playing Portland here, and a kid from the bench said something to me: “Hey, we’re gonna beat you guys tonight!” I looked at him and said, “I’ve got one rule: If you weren’t born when I started playing, you can’t talk trash.” It’s a simple rule. And he just looked and (said,) “Yes, sir.” (laughs) No argument.
The anonymous Portland benchwarmer in question, according to Blazers digital reporter Casey Holdahl, is Luis Montero.
Apparently, the kid's mouth (and other extremities) are bigger than his box scores.
It should be noted, though, that Montero was indeed alive when Bryant started his career in 1996—he was 3-years-old—so, by Bryant's own rule, he was acting within his shit-talking rights. Still, Mike Richman of The Oregonian confirms that Montero did demure when Bryant shot back at him.
So let this be a lesson to all the giant toddlers who may cross paths with the Wrinkled Mamba in these waning moments of his legendary career: He may no longer be able to put you on a poster, but he can still put you in a transcript.