Will Kobe Bryant Eventually Choose Another Title Shot Over Loyalty to Lakers?

The general conversation in the NBA right now is how a superstar grew old and wise enough to understand that a homemade fire feels good deep inside—and the invigorating joy of touching that fresh, gold trophy made by Tiffany & Co. really only goes skin-deep anyway.

It helps that the Miami Heat weren’t good enough anymore and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ cast could reach an elite level fast, meaning LeBron James’ odds of winning more championships actually increase. Yet the story arc is all about the homecoming king.

And it resonates with all of us who appreciate that pure, natural friends and family from our youth are different from business acquaintances made along the messy, sometimes cutthroat path toward career success.

But what about the guy who has always viewed himself as much different than James?

That would be Kobe Bryant, who once sneered like a school bully at James chasing trophies Bryant had already fingerprinted on five separate occasions, ribbing him about running from Cleveland and figuring James could at least enjoy another NBA MVP honor and find a nice place to live.

The implication then was that nothing was above winning for Bryant. He wanted it more and in a far more meaningful way than anyone, including James with his shallow 2010 pursuit.

It has never been the kind of image that Bryant needed handlers to perpetuate. He will get messy; he will be cutthroat. He believes he’s a winner the way you believe you’re a human.

So what happens now and the rest of the way for Bryant, who plans to play only two more years before retirement and hasn’t won a title since James was last in Cleveland?

The Lakers have precious little to offer Bryant besides the money they already eagerly gave to make sure he would stay with them. The state of affairs in Los Angeles runs completely contrary to Bryant’s unabash...

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