How Desperately Do LA Lakers Need A Healthy Kobe Bryant On Opening Night?

Bummer alert: Kobe Bryant may not be on the floor when the Los Angeles Lakers kick off the 2013-14 season Oct. 29.

Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding relayed the latest update on Bryant's status from Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni:

Bryant's absence would be a devastating blow for the Lakers. They need him to be ready for the opener, but probably not for the reasons you're thinking. 

See, Bryant's value to the Lakers this season is largely symbolic. He's viewed by fans across the world as some kind of indestructible basketball deity, destined to sit on the throne forever. If that sounds like hyperbole, consider the uproar over Kobe finishing 25th in ESPN's player rankings.

Things are getting ugly out there as staunch Bryant defenders square off against those who doubt him.

Anyone willing to be reasonable about Bryant's future knows that his run will have to end at some point. If a huge contingent of fans aren't willing to concede that a 35-year-old player with nearly 1,500 games under his belt and a freshly torn Achilles might, in fact, be approaching that end, it's a good sign that there's a little extra significance attached to said player.

If these circumstances aren't enough to get a vast swath of fans to prospectively admit that Bryant is human, none will.

That's a long-winded way of saying that Bryant means something to Lakers fans and the organization that goes beyond rationality. He has a much deeper, more profound significance.

But before getting into the psychological depths of that theory, it's probably best to treat the practical impact of Bryant's opening-night absence first.


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