Lakers Remain Kobe Bryant’s Team – He Says So

At 37, Kobe Bryant remains resolute about his role with the Los Angeles Lakers. “It’s my team,” he said as he begins his 17th NBA season.

In other words, the arrival of perennial all-stars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard changes nothing.

“I got a question earlier about whose team this is,” Bryant told reporters at the Lakers media day Monday. “I don’t want to get into the, ‘Well, we share …’ No, it’s my team. But I want to make sure that Dwight, when I retire, this is going to be his. I want to teach him everything I possibly know so that when I step away this organization can ride on as if I never left.”

That will be hard to do, but it’s a nice sentiment. The point is Bryant knows he he is nearing the end of his legendary career.

As for Howard, who is less the serious person than Bryant, he said he is OK acquiescing and learning from Bryant.

“I’m willing to go through that process, learn from one of the greatest to ever play the game and I think it will be great,” Howard said. “I think learning from a guy like Kobe, I know he’s going to be tough on me but I expect that and I want him to do that. So, I’ll take all the heat that he’s going to give me because I know at the end of the day that’s going to make me a better player and a better person and it’s going to make this team better.”

According to Bryant, he wants to prepare Howard to become the face of the Lakers’ franchise — after Bryant walks away. He has two years left on his contract. Howard only has one year, but it is widely assumed that he will re-sign a max extension with the Lakers after the season.

“This organization has done so much for me. I’m so thankful to them,” Bryant said. “That’s one of the conversations that (Lakers vice president of player personnel) Jimmy (Buss) and I had over the summer. It was like, ‘If you have the opportunity to get Dwight, get him because I want to see this organization continue to flourish and continue to be successful long after I’m gone.’ ”

In the meantime, it’s Bryant’s team. He said so.

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