Could we be nearing the moment that everyone has been waiting for? One that many expected to have already occurred?
Kobe Bryant, unquestionably one of the biggest stars in the NBA, has been notoriously absent from the festivities as he recovers from the ruptured Achilles he suffered near the end of the 2012-13 campaign against the Golden State Warriors.
There was never a firm timetable for when he'd return from the devastating injury, but the underlying assumption had him playing either in the season opener or shortly thereafter.
In the middle of November, Kobe is still out, but a quote from the Mamba himself has us thinking that he might be suiting up soon:
You can see the full interview with Rick Fox below:
Kobe must have a little bit of Labrador retriever in him.
Those dogs just don't know when to stop. They'll constantly push themselves to the brink of exhaustion or injury, running until their paws are bloody or swimming after a tennis ball until they nearly sink in the water.
Remind you of anyone?
Kobe has asserted himself as one of the fiercest competitors in NBA history throughout his professional career, and it's tough to imagine him sitting out a game of any significance if he could play. As USA Today's Scott Gleeson wrote, "The Black Mamba doesn’t like losing, whether it’s scrabble or the NBA Finals."
In the future Hall of Famer's mind, nothing could help the Lakers more than his return. And he's probably right, even though he's coming back from one of the worst injuries a basketball player can suffer.
However, the timing of this announcement is a little strange, as it comes on the heels of Mitch Kuphchak's proclamation.
As Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reported, the Lakers general manager recently told his season-ticket holders that he didn't see Kobe returning in the next two weeks, and Kobe himself said that he had a week to go in his three weeks of intense conditioning.
But hey, when has Kobe ever been constrained by a normal timetable? He takes pride in shattering the expectations and then jutting his chin out with a smug look on his face.
Could this be the latest example? Lakers nation is waiting with bated breath, and the same can probably be said for most every basketball fan around the world.