What Kobe Bryant’s Return to Lakers Will Mean to the City of Los Angeles

Kobe Bryant's comeback from a torn Achilles isn't likely to have the same impact on his Los Angeles Lakers as, say, that which #thereturn of Derrick Rose will have on the Chicago Bulls.

By the time he plays again, Bryant will likely have been sidelined seven or eight months, with only a few weeks missed of actual, meaningful games for the Los Angeles Lakers. Rose, on the other hand, will take to the court in a regular season game, during the Bulls' opener against the Miami Heat, for the first time in 18 months, with the entire 2012-13 NBA season wiped away.

But the differences between the two superstars extend far beyond their respective recovery timetables and into their disparate connections with the cities they represent. 

Rose is a product of Chicago's meanest streets. He's a humble kid from Englewood who was blessed with both talent and the intentionality with which to maximize it. He's a symbol of hope, one who demonstrates that good can come from the ravages of the Windy City, that the future can and will be better than the present. He's overcome adversity, physical and cultural alike, just as so many of the city's residents have and do every day.

Kobe's link to his current home doesn't run quite as deep, though it's no less a manifestation of Los Angeles than Rose's is of Chicago. If anything, Bryant's story is the perfect personification of the "LA Story."

Bryant, like the "archetypal Angeleno," is a transplant in this town, first and foremost. Back in 1996, he was a gifted, ambitious and hardworking teenager who, along with his representatives, felt himself better suited to life as a Laker than one as a member of the then-New Jersey Nets. So Kobe came to LA, at which point he captured hearts and minds with his boyhood charm, his brash sense of self-confidence and, of course, his brilliant basketball ability.

The Black Mamba fit perfectly into the City of Angels, ...

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