The Los Angeles Lakers will conclude a campaign to forget on Wednesday night when they take on the San Antonio Spurs in the regular-season finale. But it appears that franchise cornerstone Kobe Bryant won't even wait that long to strike 2013-14 from his memory.
According to the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan, Bryant left with his family for a vacation in France either on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The legendary shooting guard left his fans with a final requiem for the Lakers' season via his official Twitter:
Believe it or not, the 2013-14 season once held a bit of promise for Bryant and the Lakers. His teammates overachieved in the first few weeks as Bryant recovered from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles, posting a 10-9 record in the tough Western Conference.
Bryant returned to much fanfare on Dec. 8 against the Toronto Raptors. His team was still very much in the playoff race at the time.
But it was not to be. Bryant played in only six games before suffering left tibial plateau fracture in a Dec. 17 win against the Memphis Grizzlies.
That injury was the last straw for the Lakers, who lost 12 of their next 14 games and plummeted in the Western Conference standings. The 2013-14 club has already suffered more defeats than any other team in the history of this proud franchise.
Though he hasn't played a game in months, the losing has clearly worn on Bryant, per Bresnahan:
Bryant has been in a surly mood since the team's fortunes started sagging, muttering under his breath at last month's team photo that he doesn't like associating with a team so many games under .500.
For what it's worth, Bryant isn't the only person who is already fed up with watching the Lakers. The team's ratings have taken a spectacular tumble over the course of the season, per the Los Angeles Times' Joe Flint:
According to Nielsen, Lakers games have averaged a 2.15 household rating on Time Warner Cable's SportsNet this season. That translates to 122,000 households and is a 54% drop from the previous season and is believed to be a new low for the franchise. The team's season ends tonight in San Antonio against the Spurs.
The previous low for Lakers games was a 2.71 rating for the 2004-05 season, when the team was on Fox Sports West.
Not surprisingly, 2004-05 was the last time the Lakers failed to make the postseason.
The Lakers front office has a crucial summer ahead of it. It must not only acquire talent—through the draft, trades or free agency—to placate its star, but to repair the damage that has been done to the Lakers brand during this lost season.