INDIANAPOLIS -- Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who will retire at the end of this season to cap a 20-year NBA career, said Peyton Manning's decision on whether to return will be a unique experience he likely must weigh on his own.
"Everybody goes through it differently," said Bryant, whose career arc in the NBA compares well with Manning's in the NFL, given their success, injury history and longevity. "And for Peyton, I'm sure it's going to be different as well. I'm sure it's just a matter of his internal clock and knowing what makes him tick."
The relationship between Bryant and the Denver Broncos quarterback dates back a while, with Bryant drafted in 1996 and Manning in 1998.
"I remember he came to a game we played in Orlando, I think, in '99," Bryant said Monday before his final game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, where Manning starred for the Indianapolis Colts for 14 years.
"He and I were talking in the locker room," Bryant said, "and I was asking him some football questions because I'm insanely curious about how he goes through his progressions. And so he gives me this answer that I swear might as well have been Mandarin. I was like, 'Peyton, in English?'
"But he has such an awareness. He's a football geek in how much he prepares and how much he studies."
The 39-year-old Manning won his second Super Bowl on Sunday with a 24-10 Broncos win over the Carolina Panthers. He said he would take his time to consider whether he would retire or return for another season.
"I couldn't be any happier for him," said the 37-year-old Bryant, who has won five NBA championships, all with the Lakers.
Bryant said it was readily apparent when the time came for him to retire.
"For me, it was a completely internal decision," Bryant said. "I knew it was time when I wasn't as obsessed about the game, and the little nuances and details didn't consume my every day of being. When that happened, which was new for me, I knew it was time to walk away."