Jeanie Buss says Lakers will honor, celebrate Kobe Bryant’s 20th season
Los Angeles Lakers president Jeanie Buss said in an interview that the team is “talking about a bunch of different things” to properly pay tribute next year to Kobe Bryant playing in his 20th NBA season.
Promising that in whatever form the apparently season-long celebration and tribute takes, the Lakers “will make it special,” according to a Los Angeles Times report.
As noted in the Times’ report, the Lakers did a similar thing during Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 20th and final season in 1998-99, giving the legend a Rolls Royce in his final home game. But Buss says the tribute will be different given it is unclear whether the 2015-16 campaign will be Bryant’s last season.
“We’re not asking the NBA to celebrate Kobe,” Buss said. “With Kareem, it was endearing to watch every city do something special and thank him for all that. But that was clearly Kareem’s last year. I don’t know if we’re going into this clearly knowing that this is Kobe’s last year. Only Kobe can decide that.”
Reports indicate he may be leaning towards retirement once his two-year, $48.5 million extension comes to an end, He even said in December the thought of calling it quits after this season even had crossed his mind.
But all indications point to Bryant suiting up for at least one more go-round and if what Buss says about the team’s plans come to fruition, it will be a season-long Kobe Bryant lovefest. Some have suggested that celebrating Bryant’s 20th season — a remarkable achievement, given that he will become only the fifth player to reach that mark — is nothing more than a hackneyed stunt aimed at attracting fans back to Staples Center and sellling tickets, as many loyal Lakers backers have more or less given up on the once-proud, now-struggling franchise … or at least aren’t attending games with the same devotion and frequency they once did.
Even if that’s the case, it nevertheless is a milestone worth celebrating. Buss has demonstrated in the past that she is fiercely loyal to Bryant, so if she’s making the calls about the tribute, chances are good it will be done in a classy manner.