Speaking on TWC SportsNet's Connected With..., the Black Mamba indicated that he was "born a Laker" and has every intention of "dying one" too, per Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding.
Kobe says: "I was born a Laker, so I look forward to dying one." (Speaking in @TWCSportsNet "Connected With..." interview at 11 p.m. PT.)— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) October 30, 2013
Eloquently put, but not at all surprising.
Almost two decades of Kobe's life has been spent representing the Purple and Gold. At 35 and still rehabbing a ruptured Achilles, his ties to and appreciation of the Lakers organization have never seemed stronger.
Luckily for Kobe, the Lakers continue to heart him back.
General manager Mitch Kupchak made it clear in September that the Mamba wanted to be a Laker for life, and made it equally known that the team was dedicated to making that happen.
Kupchak: "Kobe's made it clear that he intends to retire (as a Laker) and we feel same way."— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 25, 2013
Los Angeles' plans for Kobe came under intermediate scrutiny, though, following the Orange County Register's T.J. Simers' report that the Lakers would allow him to hit free agency in 2014. Executive vice president Jim Buss dismissed such conjecture as quickly as it came, via ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne:
I want to put an end to any speculation that we would allow Kobe to become a free agent. That's not going to happen. Kobe is a top priority for us. He's a Laker legend and always will be. I don't think we're done winning championships with him yet.
[Lakers general manager] Mitch Kupchak and [Bryant's agent] Rob Pelinka have been talking, but with him being hurt, it has slowed the process some. I don't know when it'll get done, but I have faith in Rob and Mitch to work things out.
For his part, Kobe also said all the right things before the Lakers' opening-night victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I thought it was great actually on his part to kind of silence some of the conversation that was brewing," Kobe told Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears of Buss' comments. "I'm sure we will be in conversation. I'll let [my agent] Rob [Pelinka] handle that."
Kobe could still become a free agent over the offseason. Contract negotiations will be complicated and most likely unable to be ironed out while he's incapacitated.
Once he returns to action and his current basketball value is more clear, talks stand to pick up steam. From there, it's a matter of how much Kobe's worth and how much the Lakers will actually pay him.
All along, the plan has been to chase multiple superstars this coming summer. Players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony could be available, and with only two contracts on the books for 2014-15—Steve Nash and Robert Sacre—the Lakers have the opportunity to spearhead a free-agency binge.
Their approach all depends on Kobe. The less money he commands, the more the Lakers have to throw around.
To actualize their dream of courting two of the league's top stars, Kobe would have to accept under $6 million in the first year of his new deal. Realistically, that's not going happen.
When will Kobe re-sign with the Lakers?
Predicting what Kobe will make is an impossible task at the moment, though. Not until an agreement has been reached will we really ever know. Same goes for the Lakers. Once they do know, they'll be able to plan their summer spending spree accordingly.
Financial commitment is the greatest obstacle for both parties to overcome. Given what's at stake—keeping this relationship alive and well—that's really not an obstacle at all. It's not enough of an issue to drive the two sides apart.
Somehow, some way, Kobe will re-sign with the Lakers before next season. He was born a Laker, so he'll die a Laker, just how it was meant to be.