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Monday, October 25, 2010
15 seasons: Another franchise record for Kobe Bryant

By Brian Kamenetzky

Kobe Bryant will own a multitude of franchise records by the time he calls it a career. Some will require a few more years of toil. Others, about 24 hours. Assuming he's not traded or cut before Tuesday's season opener against the Rockets, Bryant will enter his 15th season in purple and gold, breaking a tie with Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Elgin Baylor.

Given the mechanics of modern sports, the NBA certainly being no exception, this may be the most unbreakable of all the marks Bryant sets as a Laker. With the contract extension he signed last season, Kobe should complete 18 seasons in L.A.. Since few are convinced that was the last of his contracts, the number could rise even more.

It's also a number illustrating why, while it may be fun to engage in Kobe vs. Magic/Michael/Fill-in-the-blank debates (and we will), they should always be held with context in mind: Bryant isn't done yet. And even those who feel it will be very difficult for Kobe to "pass" Jordan on the all-time list (count me as one) have to understand 20 years after he retires the 20 years or so Kobe will log in the NBA will mean a lot more to the generations (and his career will encompass more than one) who saw him. They'll tell Kobe stories like others tell tales of Magic and M.J., or West and Wilt.

Nothing in sports is static. Bryant will pile up more numbers, and could very well add more jewelry to his collection, but for those hoping he reaches the top of Mt. G.O.A.T., time could be your best weapon.