As Kobe Bryant Turns 34, Is It Time To Consider Retirement From The NBA? [PHOTOS]

 @ammiet1a.tate@ibtimes.com on August 23 2012 10:34 AM
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    Kobe Bryant recently won a gold medal with the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics. Reuters
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Basketball legend Michael Jordan first retired from the game when he was 30 years old. Kobe Bryant today is celebrating his 34th birthday, and has been in the NBA for 16 years, never leaving the Los Angeles Lakers team.

The shooting guard recently won Olympic gold in London with the U.S. men's basketball team, where he scored 17 of the team's 107 points.

Now, the Lakers have superstar center Dwight Howard, 26, joining their starting lineup in the upcoming season after a four-team trade.

But how much longer will Bryant be in the NBA, and what does he have to say about retirement? He recently sat with Graham Bensiger of the Huffington Post, and spoke extensively about his age and how much differently he trains now than when  he first joined the league at the age of 19.

"You have to evolve. So like the things I was doing when I was 19 years old to prepare and to train in terms of the explosiveness...the impact I would put on my body; the stress levels I would put on my body to train and prepare I can't do the same things now at 33 years old [be]cause it would be counter-productive," Bryant said to Bensinger.

While Bryant used to bank 1,000-1,500 shots during practices in the off-season, he now aims for 600-800, he said.

When asked about the decline, he said, "Because of my body ... you just can't take that much of a work load. You've got to balance it out."

There is no question that Bryant still has many more great years of playing left in him. If he decides not to retire anytime soon, he will be in good company. One of the greatest players in NBA history, Patrick Ewing, did not retire until 2002, after 17 years in the league. He was 40 years old. All-star Reggie Miller was 39 years old when he announced his retirement from the Pacers at the end of the 2004-2005 season. 

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