Kobe Bryant’s Laker Career Could Have Surprise Ending

Here's the Kobe Bryant Story, in all its picture-perfect glory: Child takes league by storm. Child broaches adulthood and shit hits the fan. Demons outrun and maturation complete, child rises as a man, redeemed, to near-universal acclaim.

Now, what was once the public’s uneasy detente with the Lakers ball-hoggin', (accused) sex-offendin', basketball sociopath has leveled out into something approaching acceptance. Kobe embraced his teammates, acknowledged flaws and ended up with two more titles to show for it. He topped off his legacy while at the same time developing a game more suited to his age. Kobe Bryant only remains polarizing to those who haven’t bothered to move on to LeBron.

It was assumed that, out of respect and inevitability, this current Lakers squad was to sunset with Kobe. He would bow out of the game when he felt like it—maybe too soon (like Jordan) or too late (like Jordan)—but either way, his pride would be kept intact. Kobe, his knees deteriorating, had no choice but to accept (or at least acknowledge) his mortality. The Lakers, bound by honor and salary cap situation, were similarly fated.

Increasingly, though, it’s looking like new head coach Mike Brown has other plans. The aged Lakers, who were soundly thrashed by the Mavericks in the playoffs, aren't winding things down—or some might say, giving up—quite yet. The Lakers are Kobe, but they're also Pau Gasol, one of the game's premier big men and still in his prime, and Andrew Bynum, a monster of a young center if only he could stay healthy. The Lakers may be stuck with this team, but there’s no reason that its immediate future needs to be shackled to one man’s narrative. They have options.

When Mike Brown suggests to Kevin Ding that the offense will be moving more and more toward an inside game, it's common sense. Pau Gasol ain't done yet, and relegating Andrew Bynum to standing around in worsh...

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