Silver City, N.M. – Kobe Bryant recently announced that he is coming out of retirement and is set to return to basketball for the Western New Mexico University men’s basketball team. The 5-time NBA champion has not played since the 2016 season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Having someone with the stature of Kobe Bryant coming to our University really helps put us on the map,” Athletic Director Brian Kortz said. “When you think of present day basketball, you think of Kobe and all that he has meant for the game. He will be able to make an immediate impact, I think, with our program.”
What gave Bryant the idea and motivation to return is because of this year’s March Madness.
“The competition of college basketball is great to see,” said Bryant. “I never had the experience of what if feels like, which is why I would like to come out of retirement.”
Because he went straight to the NBA right after high school, Bryant is permitted to join the NCAA. Born in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Bryant graduated from Lower Merion High School (PA) in 1996. That same year he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Coming to WNMU was a personal choice for Bryant. “I played on a team [Lakers] that had the colors of purple, yellow and white”, said Bryant. “This is very personal for me, which is why I would like to take my college career to WNMU.”
Colors was not only the reason why the 38-year old is coming to Western. The biology program gave Bryant an interest. In 2004, he came up with a nickname for himself; “The Black Mamba”, which is a venomous snake. The name was presented to Bryant after watching the film Kill Bill Vol. 2.
“I would like to study the snake a lot more which is why I would like to go into biology,” said Bryant. “The biology program at WNMU, from what I hear, is one of the greatest.”
During his 20-year NBA career, Bryant was known to be a shooter. In 2006, he put up 81 points in one game and ranks third all-time in points with 33,643. However, he is willing to change his style of play to a “team player.”
“I realize, when looking back on my career, that I held the ball longer than I should,” said Bryant. “I am willing to help the basketball team in all ways, even if it means passing the ball.”
Bryant will be arriving to campus this summer for preseason workouts and will reside at the Centennial Hall dorms.