After an agonizing eight months of waiting, Los Angeles Lakers fans finally have the prize for their patience within their grasp.
His name is Kobe Bryant. And he's making his 2013-14 debut against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, Dec. 8, even if he told ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin that, "I'm sure I'll be limited in some capacity."
No more speculation. No more guessing games.
Just a highly dramatic two-plus-minute video announcement on the Lakers' official Facebook page, a somehow perfect declaration of the return of Hollywood's biggest star.
Apparently, Bryant never had his game jersey for his seven-plus months of rehab. Judging by the video, that's been hanging somewhere in the clouds.
It's hard to say those are L.A. clouds, though, with all the rainstorms and snow flurries falling around the garment. Out of nowhere, a lightning bolt strikes the jersey, slicing through the front of it, no doubt symbolic of the torn Achilles he's been nursing back to health since April.
Suddenly, the sun shines so blindingly bright that it overtakes the rest of the screen. As the light retreats into the clouds, Bryant's jersey is remarkably fixed. No more tear; just a flawless piece of purple-and-gold brilliance.
As the screen fades to black, viewers are left with one final message. You know, in case you couldn't figure out what a weather-battered, self-healing jersey signified:
Kobe's Facebook video ends with the words: "THE LEGEND CONTINUES...DECEMBER 8"— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) December 6, 2013
The flick is not for everyone:
Gag RT @KevinDing: Kobe's Faceook video ends with the words: "THE LEGEND CONTINUES...DECEMBER 8"— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) December 6, 2013
But to me, it's perfect.
Why? Because it's Kobe. It's L.A. And, of course, it's on Facebook.
Are you a fan of the video?
He shared the pain this injury caused him mentally and even showed off the physical damage.
So, yes, it had to be on Facebook.
And it had to be dramatic, too.
Think about which franchise we're talking about here. The Showtime Lakers, the only team that could get away with keeping a "Hollywood Nights" jersey in its closet.
Is it a little over the top? No. That's not L.A.'s style.
It becomes larger than life the second the Hollywood music starts pumping through your speakers:
Judging by that video, Kobe Bryant is going to crawl through a desert to Staples Center, then rise on one knee, scream, and kill Valanciunas— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 6, 2013
Bryant's return could never be something you pore over in the newspaper—they still make those, right?—or a message received courtesy of an insider's tip from an all-access reporter's Twitter feed.
It had to fit the role that the Mamba has played so masterfully for the Lakers over these last 17 seasons.
It had to capture the very essence of the moment—a superhero has returned.