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Kobe Bryant Eyes Post-NBA Life Minus Jordan’s Ownership Role

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Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Kobe Bryant has been compared with Michael Jordan throughout his playing career while winning championships, awards and scoring titles.

Bryant probably won’t be following in Jordan’s footsteps in one aspect, saying he can’t envision being involved in the ownership of a National Basketball Association team.

“I don’t know if ownership is really for me, I’d go crazy,” Bryant said in an interview with Stephanie Ruhle on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.” “If a player misses a game because he has a broken fingernail I’d lose my mind. I wouldn’t be able to take it.”

Bryant, 34, is in his 17th season with the Los Angeles Lakers, the franchise he’s helped win five championships, one short of Jordan’s total with the Chicago Bulls. Jordan now is the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Bryant said he sees a “light at the end of the tunnel” when it comes to his playing career. He said he would like to remain involved with the Lakers, where fellow guard Magic Johnson won five NBA titles in Los Angeles before becoming part owner.

“I feel a sense of pride that I have played for this organization,” Bryant said. “I want to see this organization be successful when I am gone. So it’s about helping them and doing whatever I can to set them up for the next generation.”

Bryant last week launched his new shoe, the Nike Kobe 8, and is the fourth-highest earning American athlete, with $20.3 million in salary and $28 million in endorsements, according to Sports Illustrated. He said that whatever he ends up doing after his playing career, he’ll remain close to basketball.

‘Inspire Generation’

“I’ll be around the game and hopefully my brand can live on past my career and I can be a part of the game in that sense and inspire another generation,” Bryant said. “Whether that’s through advertising or grass-roots marketing.”

Bryant has been with Nike Inc. since 2003, when he signed with the world’s largest athletic-shoe maker along with LeBron James after the end of Jordan’s playing career. Bryant said Nike Chairman Phil Knight is a worthy member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, even though he’s never played or coached.

“Growing up when I watched all the Michael Jordan commercials or Charles Barkley commercials as a kid, I did not differentiate between a Nike commercial and an NBA commercial,” Bryant said. “What he did for the game of basketball was elevate it globally.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net; Stephanie Ruhle in New York at sruhle2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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