In an interview with ESPNLA 710, via ESPN's Ramona Shelbourne, Buss talked about Bryant's current return from Achilles surgery and his future in L.A.:
I want Kobe to take the time that he needs to get healthy. I don't want to see him come back any sooner than when he's ready, and I know he'll know when that is. There's no reason for him to do anything that compromises his health.
Later, when asked by ESPNLosAngeles.com to expand on that comment, Buss said:
Kobe is part of the Laker family and he always will be. There's not many players who play 18-19 years with the same franchise, and it's important to us that he has a chance to play his entire career with the Lakers.
Bryant, who was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets but subsequently traded to the Lakers for Vlade Divac on draft night in 1996, has spent 17 seasons with the Lake Show. In that time, he's established himself as arguably the greatest player in the storied franchise's history, as well as one of the best to ever play the game period.
Throw in the fact that it's rare for a player as special as Bryant to spend his entire career with one team, and it's not exactly difficult to see why Buss wants him to stay in town.
It will be intriguing to see how much longer that might be.
Kobe has a lot of mileage on his 34-year-old legs, he is coming off a very serious injury, and he has just one season remaining on his current contract. He is still one of the most productive players in the league, averaging 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game last season; but for most, retirement might at least be on the horizon.
Still, Bryant can't really be treated like a normal person; his ability to shatter recovery timetables is proof of that. He likely still has a lot of basketball left in him.
And if Buss' wish comes true, that basketball will be played in Los Angeles.
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