- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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Remember the last scene of "The Sopranos," in which the cast is sitting in a diner and the camera just fades to black, leaving viewers of the longtime hit show to project what they want onto the series finale?
That's kind of what Kobe Bryant did with his Twitter avatar on Tuesday. After changing his avatar from a picture of a grizzly bear over the summer to a cryptic "1225" avatar that might or might not have referred to ESPN's team and player rankings -- or been his "pet's birthday" -- Bryant has faded to black. Literally.
His avatar is now just a black screen, and, on Tuesday, he offered just two hashtags as clues to his mindset: #blackout #bearhunt.
The mysterious tweet set off a new round of theories about just what he meant. Was he referring to the Lakers game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 15, when the team could debut its black "Hollywood Nights" jersey? Is that when he's coming back?
Was he referring to the inspirational quote on his Facebook page in an emotional post the night after he ruptured his Achilles?
"If you see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear," Bryant wrote last April. "I've always loved that quote. That's 'Mamba mentality' we don't quit, we don't cower, we don't run. We endure and conquer."
Was he referring to his infamous "blackout" workouts, the type he'll need to put himself through to get in shape to return to the Lakers?
One never knows.
And it's not as if Bryant will shed much light on it.
In an interview with NBA TV that aired Tuesday night, Bryant reiterated that he has not set a timetable for his return.
"Not yet. I'm pushing it, and this past week's felt pretty good," Bryant said. "We're all being pretty smart about the process and taking our time and making sure I come back ready to go.
"I think the most difficult part is the process I'm going through right now, that's the patience. To me, that's the hardest part. The game to me isn't necessarily difficult. I grew up, fortunately, understanding the fundamentals of the game and footwork and spacing, timing and things of that nature. I feel like I can adjust my game to whatever it is I can do physically -- whether I have lift or I don't have lift or if I have the same explosiveness or I don't have the same explosiveness, I feel like I'll be able to adjust just fine."