Having spent the entirety of his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant is forever etched in franchise lore. No matter the days, years or decades that will pass, the five-time NBA champion will remain synonymous with the Lakers.
For as much as Bryant dedicated himself to the sport and team, whether playing through injuries or putting in countless hours in the gym, he’s managed a relatively clean break since retiring at the end of the 2015-16 season. Only on occasion has he returned, primarily for marquee events.
When the Lakers hired Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s former agent, as general manager, there was widespread speculation and anticipation Pelinka would bring on his close friend in some capacity. But Bryant has remained steadfast in his refusal to join the organization in an official capacity.
Holding a position in a front office simply is not of interest to him. As for potentially becoming an unofficial salesman for the Lakers in free agency, Bryant told Chris McGee on “Connected With…” that he won’t do that either but remains available to the organization, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Why? No. It’s not my job. I’m busy, I’m happy doing what I’m doing now in creating stories. Listen, I’m a Laker for life, man. I’d love nothing more than to see this organization back to where it belongs. Jeanie knows, Magic knows, Rob knows. I’m always around for them.”
The stance is much different than the one Bryant had during his playing career, as he was part of the contingents to meet with then-free agents LaMarcus Aldridge and Dwight Howard, among others. A scheduling conflict prevented him from being present for the Lakers’ pitch to Carmelo Anthony.
With or without Bryant, there’s increased confidence and optimism the Lakers will put an end to their misses in free agency this summer. In addition to a renewed voice in Pelinka, arguably no one is more charismatic than Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.
And though Bryant stated he won’t become involved, it’s difficult to fathom him denying a possible request from Johnson or Pelinka that he perhaps offers some contribution.
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