Is Kobe Bryant Enough for LA Lakers to Lure Superstars?

There is no doubting the gravitational pull of Kobe Bryant. Wherever he goes, our eyeballs follow. Whatever he says, we listen. Few players in the league have ever commanded the level of respect, admiration and fear Bryant does from his peers. He's a global icon and a living legend.

And he's almost out of time.

Bryant knows this. Athletes on his level sometimes seem to be unaware of their own mortality, or at least unwilling to acknowledge it. Even last season before his torn Achilles and subsequent knee injuries, Bryant seemed to be cognizant of what was coming for him after he saw the Boston Celtics start to collectively break down. Here's what Bryant told then:

"I'm not happy about what's happening to them," Bryant said. "We're all running out of time. So I understand."

Bryant is approaching the end of the line, and the long and arduous recovery process from injury has to be both frustrating and humbling. Really, it's something everyone faces at some point in their life: Suddenly you don't bounce back as quickly, and you lose some quickness, and you start to decline. It's only natural for a world-class athlete like Bryant, who was once at the peak of his profession, to go through that process. There was nowhere else to go but down.

That decline isn't just limited to what your body can and cannot do any longer. It affects everything. 

One area where Bryant's injuries didn't have an impact, however, was his wallet. Bryant still has an incredible amount of sway within the Lakers organization, as evidenced by his two-year contract extension worth $48.5 million.

But that extension, for the most part, was based more on his past performance, almost like a reward for his services. It made plenty of business sense, of course, and you can justify paying him that amount because Kobe and the fans both deserve it. With that in mind, here's what Lakers owner Ji...

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