Kobe Bryant signed a two-year contract extension that all but guarantees he’ll retire as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant, who is close to playing for the first time this season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon last spring, agreed to a $48.5 million deal, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles, that will ensure that he is the league’s highest-paid player over that time, Shelburne reported.
“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement released by the team. “We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, and this should ensure that that happens.
“To play 20 years in the NBA, and to do so with the same team, is unprecedented, and quite an accomplishment. Most importantly however, it assures us that one of the best players in the world will remain a Laker, bringing us excellent play and excitement for years to come.”
Bryant has won five titles with the Lakers, but the deal was still eye-popping.
“God bless Kobe Bryant,” Jeff Van Gundy said with a laugh, when asked on ESPN for his reaction. “Good for him. I don’t know if that’s good for the Lakers from the standpoint of their future flexibility to try to attract free gents to get to the next era of Lakers championship basketball or not, but Kobe Bryant has a very unique will. While others sit out and coddle injuries, Bryant, as you see with this injury, is doing every thing he can to speed up his recovery. I admire the old-school ethos of Kobe Bryant.”