Will Kobe Bryant’s Lakers Farewell Tour Lead to Bitter Disappointment?

There's no simple way to properly evaluate Kobe Bryant's two-year, $48.5 million extension to extend his run with the Los Angeles Lakers to an even 20 years, per ESPN.

There's so much at play here—between his legendary contributions to the franchise, his age, his fitness coming off a devastating Achilles injury, and his chance to make history by surpassing John Stockton's record for seasons with the same team (19) and challenging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record.

And, of course, there is Bryant's desire to match Michael Jordan's sixth championship with a six-pack of his own.

Bryant's decision to ditch the "precedent" set by Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett—two future Hall of Famers who took pay cuts to around $10 million per year in their mid-30s to allow their respective squads to reload—won't make the task of earning that sixth ring any easier.

Not for Bryant, not for his Lakers teammates and certainly not for the brain trust of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss.

But as straightforward as it may be to criticize the Black Mamba for seemingly putting the continued expansion of his own fortune ahead of his stated desire to win another team title, it's far too early to assume that him putting pen to paper in this manner means he'll be marooned between mediocrity and "meh" in LA until the day he retires.

First of all, let's remember that Bryant could've wound up clogging up more of the payroll more than he actually will. According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, Bryant was eligible for a 7.5-percent raise, thereby pegging his potential max at approximately $32.8 million. From that angle, Bryant is giving up nearly $10 million per year in earning potential to make sure that his colors don't go the way of Paul Pierce's green.

It's not as though the Lakers can't win big anyway with a player making upwards of $23 million a year. According ...

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