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Kobe Bryant's visit to New York this past weekend to play against the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks marked the beginning of what many expect to be his farewell tour — one last trip around the NBA landscape as he wraps up (perhaps somewhat ingloriously, as if there were any other option) an illustrious 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The legendary shooting guard and surefire first-ballot future Hall of Famer has been somewhat cagey about whether he does intend to hang 'em up after the conclusion of the 2015-16 season. Mitch Kupchak has said Kobe will, Phil Jackson has said he doesn't think Kobe will, Byron Scott has said Kobe said he might, and Kobe has said he's not sure he wants to come back but reserves the right to change his mind, stopping only to note that if he does continue playing after the conclusion of his current contract, he plans to do so in purple and gold.
"My message has been consistent all the time. If I change my mind, I'll come back and play. If I don't, I won't," Bryant said after Sunday's loss to the Knicks, according to Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press. "I've been pretty consistent with that, so I don't know how much, what else can I say?"
Perhaps Bryant is declining to offer much more publicly because he's saving the good stuff to provide options in the editing room. Check the note nestled in the Sunday stories from CBSSports.com's Ken Berger:
Inside [the elevator], Kobe embraced Ron Harper, a championship teammate to both Bryant and his muse, Michael Jordan. The doors to the wide chasm closed — vertically, like the slateboard clapper of a movie director. And in truth, it is difficult to separate Bryant's reality from reality TV on what is presumed to be his final lap around the NBA at age 37, incomprehensively in his 20th season. Inside the elevator with him, as with virtually his every step, word and gesture, was a documentary film crew — camera rolling and boom-mic hovering above his bald head.
... and Bleacher Report's Howard Beck:
Yet Bryant will also admit to moments of reminiscence as he makes his way through the league once more, a chance to appreciate what has been, the road traveled.
"Is it a little different this time around?" Bryant said. "Yeah, yeah."
No, Bryant will not say this is it. But he did hire a film crew to track him all season, filming every move and collecting sound bites in quiet moments. No documentary is planned, Bryant told me. But don't be surprised if we see one if this truly is the end.
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Maybe Bryant's telling it like it is, and we shouldn't start clearing out space on our DVRs just yet for the sequel to "Kobe Bryant's Muse." Working titles that Eric Freeman and I came up with include "Kobe Bryant's Muse 2: Electric Musealoo," and "Kobe Bryant's Muse 2: Son of the Muse," co-starring Jamie Kennedy as Kobe Bryant Jr. in what would be a truly groundbreaking documentary.
It sure sounds, though, like someone's preparing to make a final statement on his own terms off the floor ... even if, given his own limitations and those of the Lakers' roster, he doesn't necessarily get to do it the way he'd hoped on the court. Bryant's determination to document Year 20 from his own point of view is probably worth keeping in mind as he continues to make his appointed rounds, whichever way his decision-making process turns out ... and hey, as shooting locations for a post-credits sequence go, Rio sure doesn't sound too bad.
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