Kobe Bryant’s career will be forever remembered and appreciated by basketball fans, but how will it be remembered in the Staples Center rafters?
That was one of the topics of conversation Sunday when Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke at a season ticket-holders event.
“I don’t know the answer,” Kupchak admitted, via the Los Angeles Times. “Obviously it’s going to be eight, 24 or it could be both.”
Well, that was very unspecific.
Bryant became an All-Star as No. 8, breaking onto the scene as a fan favorite, slam-dunk champion, and three-time NBA champion alongside Shaquille O’Neal. He also had his famous 81-point game rocking that digit. But as No. 24, Bryant won his only MVP trophy and added two more titles sans Shaq. Both numbers are iconic and synonymous with his legend.
It doesn’t seem like any decisions are close, but one thing that is clear: the Lakers are ready to move on once Bryant hangs up his kicks.
“We cannot move on as a team until Kobe leaves,” Kupchak said. “Part of that to me is painful because I’ve been here 20 years with Kobe.”
But the Lakers don’t seem to mind the sideshow.
“This is a year that’s dedicated to Kobe and his farewell,” he continued. “From my point of view it gives me complete clarity. … We know what our (salary) cap situation is going to be like.”
So, really, it’s not No. 8 or No. 24 that the Lakers are worried about. That’s a debate for another day down the road, and might come down to what Bryant wants. What does matter? The nearly $60 million they’ll have at their disposal with his contract off the books.
Even in retirement, Kobe is putting the Lakers in position to win.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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