In a new interview with The Rich Eisen Show, Kobe unequivocally states his basketball days are over.
“There’s about a zero percent chance that I come back and play,” Kobe says around the 10:15-minute mark. “Nothing. Done. That’s it.”
He continues, “Here’s the thing. For us athletes, it’s really hard to transition from that [playing every season]. I was really personal about it when I wrote Dear Basketball. But that is the true challenge of finding what comes next and finding something that you love to do every bit as you loved your first passion. That is the challenge for us.
“Unfortunately for us athletes we’ve been pigeonholed into thinking we can only be one thing.”
Kobe goes on to say that he took that as a “personal challenge” and wants to prove that he’s not just a one-dimensional person.
TMZ Sports caught up with Cube earlier this week and it he definitely had his doubts Kobe would ever step foot in a basketball arena again.
“I think he’s done,” he said.”
[This article has been updated. The original version was published on August 22, 2018.]
In an interview with ESPN’s Outside The Lines, the West Coast gangsta rap icon joked that he’d take extreme measures to get the NBA legend to join the league.
“To me, he’s the biggest name out there for us to get,” he said. “He’s going to have to get a restraining order on me to leave him alone about this.”
Cube predicts nature will take its course and the BIG3 will reel Kobe in organically.
“I think we just keep doing what we doing putting on great basketball and I think we have a lot of retired players looking at our league and they want a piece of this,” he added. “And we’ve got a lot of players that are at the end of their career that are looking at our league.
“If you got the itch, we got the scratch. We just keep putting on a great product and if he wants to play, he’ll come play.”
— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) August 22, 2018
The rumor started to circulate on Wednesday (August 21) after Basketball Society’s Brandon Robinson said Kobe was ready to join the BIG3. The news reportedly came from league co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz.
By that afternoon, Chief Marketing Officer of Kobe Inc. Molly Carter shot that rumor down and confirmed he wouldn’t be playing next year.