Los Angeles Lakers veteran Kobe Bryant has refused to confirm whether he will retire at the end of the upcoming season or prolong his career.
Bryant is entering his 20th season with the Lakers, which is an NBA record for the most seasons a player has spent with one team. But, the 37-year-old has begun to show signs of age and has broken down in the last three seasons with a ruptured Achilles, knee problems and, most recently, a torn rotator cuff.
But, Bryant revealed that he is more focused on training camp and the new season rather than his future.
"If it is, it is," Bryant told reporters. "If it isn't, I'll be ready for next season. I don't spend too much time thinking about it. I've got enough to think about.
"I'm excited to be back on the court. I'm excited to be out there with the young players who are starting their careers, starting their journeys. I'm excited to help them out and kind of show them things I've learned. I'm as excited for this season as I've been in a long time."
Bryant's former team-mate Shaquille O'Neal and ex-Lakers coach Phil Jackson have both urged him to carry on playing after the 2015/16 season, but the 'Black Mamba' made it clear that he will not let anyone influence his decision.
"Everybody is going to have opinions," he said. "I can't comment on every single opinion that everybody makes, even if it's a coach that I won so many championships with and know extremely well. It's still his opinion. There will be many others."
Bryant's future has become a hot topic in the NBA community, but he won't let it distract him once the new season commences.
"It could get to become a pain in the ass, but when I sit back and think about it, it's actually cool, because it means that you've had a really good career and people want to know when the time is coming for you to hang 'em up," Bryant said. "Like me, don't like me, [but people] respect the career that I've had. I think that's a pretty damn cool thing."