Kobe Bryant Will Supplant Magic Johnson as Loudest Lakers Alumni Voice

LOS ANGELES — Amid all the speculation as to when Kobe Bryant will retire, let’s bear something in mind: Whenever it happens, Bryant isn’t vanishing from our lives.

He has put a lot of thought and considerable planning into his post-basketball identity: Kobe Inc. has already established a West Newport Beach office location as its global headquarters. Bryant’s highest public profile, rest assured, isn’t going to be cheering at his young daughters’ Mamba FC games (their actual club name, yes) in the Coast Soccer League.

For as much as he has used Michael Jordan (style) and Bill Russell (results) as his muses, Bryant has cited Magic Johnson (business) as his standard for moving from basketball to a big-time off-court presence…except you know that Bryant believes he can be even bigger and better.

Have no doubt: Bryant will still have his say. He might not have his way as often as he still does now as the Lakers’ marquee player, but there will be no shortage of folks eager to hear what he thinks about whoever follows in his footsteps. That means he could be one heck of a back-seat driver in a few years.

The Lakers’ entire operation is geared toward superstar identities contributing to the ongoing strength of their brand. Whenever he steps aside, Bryant will be the most relevant Lakers alum ever. Johnson has that platform currently, and he has caused Lakers management no shortage of annoyance with public statements about his old team.

It’s no secret in local circles how badly Johnson wants to be majority owner of the Lakers. Yet no matter how much Jerry Buss might’ve treated Johnson as a son (and allowed him minority ownership that Johnson has since sold), the Lakers have stayed in the actual family.

It follows that Johnson has a unique sort of sibling rivalry with Jim Buss, Jerry’s son chosen to succeed him in ...

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