Kobe Bryant Invited to Play at WSOP as Tribute to Former Lakers Owner Jerry Buss

The World Series of Poker will be without one of its brightest stars this July, as Dr. Jerry Buss—longtime participant in the various WSOP events and former Los Angeles Lakers team owner—passed away on February 18 of this year. 

With the main event, a 10-day, $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold‘em tournament, beginning play on July 6, the WSOP organizers decided to extend an invite to someone that could live up to Dr. Buss’ legacy and continue his tradition of smart play and class—Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.

Using the hashtag #sharksvsmamba, the tournament directors likely envisioned a scenario in which the Black Mamba would carve up the poker professionals using the same guile that makes him one of the world’s greatest basketball players of all time.

Unfortunately, Bryant was forced to decline the invite, citing doctor’s orders. He assured them that he would be there in spirit:

Considering Kobe’s fanatical devotion to his rehabilitation and mission to recover from a torn Achilles tendon in time for the 2013-14 season tip, it’s no surprise his doctor has advised against participating in the WSOP.

The structure of the tournament encourages many long hours of sitting at the poker table, grinding out small wins and hoarding chips in an attempt to make the latter stages.

While Bryant’s presence would be emotionally touching and add another level of excitement to the event, it simply isn’t a smart decision for the 34-year-old shooting guard.

In the twilight of his career and coming off of a devastating injury, Bryant would be better served rehabbing and attempting to honor Dr. Buss in the best way he possibly can—by winning another championship for his beloved Los Angeles Lakers.

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