Entering his 20th season in the NBA, Kobe Bryant has not made a decision on whether or not it will be his final season. However with less than a week until the regular season begins, the Los Angeles Lakers are not taking any chances, particularly when it comes to their 2015-16 Media Guide, which pays proper tribute to Bryant whether he plays past this season or not.
This years Media Guide cover features a 35 picture montage of Bryant, from his early days with the team, through All Star appearances, the Olympics, and all five championships. The only other player prominently featured with Kobe is Michael Jordan, though Tim Duncan makes a background cameo.
This display of devotion to Kobe is interesting in that there’s no official indication that this is Kobe’s final season. Bryant’s contract does end at the conclusion of this season, but while he’s talked about his inevitable retirement, he’s remained silent about officially confirming it. Adding to the intrigue is that nobody else around the league seems to know his plans either.
It’s accepted that the Lakers are trying to rebuild a team that is both competitive enough for Kobe to stay and play with, but also set up to carry on past his potential departure. Some have even argued that with Kobe refusing to take on a lesser role, the Lakers would be better off without him. As his presence both prevents them from entering a full rebuild and costs the team $25 million in cap space.
The full guide is available for Download in PDF form on Lakers.com, and covers the entire basketball management and operations team, coaching staff, and opening day roster, along with the D-Fenders and cheer leading group. Additionally, the edition begins with a terrific written tribute to Chick Hearn written by Mike Waldner.
We’ve also been told that Sports Illustrated is launching a passing of the torch featuring Bryant and D’Angelo Russell on the cover of their NBA season preview. If that proves true, fans might want to consider grabbing it as a collectible item.