Kobe Bryant’s retirement tour has consumed this entire Los Angeles Lakers season. Whenever they go on the road, he’s serenaded with applause and saluted with gifts and pregame montage videos. The tribute is well deserved, but bloated. He’s an all-time great player who deserves all the attention and adoration NBA fans across the world are giving him.
That’s 100 percent his right. But Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade doesn’t think something like that will be for him when it comes time for the 34-year-old to say goodbye (via Sun-Sentinel):
Wade said he could not envision himself in the same sphere as Bryant, playing to regular tributes before and after games. “I don't know,” he said. “I don't sit back and say, 'Oh, when I retire.' I'm not that cocky to say, 'I want a farewell tour when I retire.' For me, that's a little too cocky of a mindset to have, thinking I'm that important, that I should get a farewell tour.”
Wade shouldn’t have to worry about retirement for quite some time. Despite a noticeable drop in his night-to-night athleticism, Miami’s starting shooting guard is averaging 19.1 points, 4.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 45.3 percent from the floor and his free-throw rate is the same now as it was in 2012. That’s remarkable.
More importantly, the Heat are good! And so long as Wade keeps his salary down to a reasonable level when free agency negotiations get underway this summer, there’s no reason why the team can’t be even better next season—with improved youngsters like Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow in the mix, alongside a presumably healthy Chris Bosh, increasingly comfortable Goran Dragic and re-signed Hassan Whiteside.
The Eastern Conference should be wide open next year, and Miami will be one squad looking to take it.
Bryant is 37 years old and nowhere near his prime, but if there were even the slightest chance the Lakers could have made a deep playoff run over the next few months, there’s no chance he’d have announced his retirement when and how he did.