Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers legend, will play his final game on April 13 against the Utah Jazz. Next season, the Lakers are compelled to find a new franchise player. Who will it be? According to latest Lakers Rumors, the organization hasn’t yet planned for the post-Bryant era.
In the eyes of the franchise and its legion of fans, Bryant was more than just a former five-time champion and two-time Finals MVP. Bryant embraced the responsibility of the franchise player and helped the organization sell tickets and merchandise in the post-Shaquille O’Neal era.
Also, it wasn’t easy to be the face of the most popular basketball franchise. It wasn’t easy to follow in the footsteps of Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and O’Neal. In the end, Bryant superseded all expectations and carried the Lakers brand on his back for 20 years.
Last year, Bryant said his successor would need a special type of DNA. “Win championships or nothing. To lead this franchise, you’ve got to be that way,” Bryant said at the time.
Who will take Bryant’s place? Will it be promising rookie D’Angelo Russell? Or will Kevin Durant come to town? Will it be California native DeMar DeRozan? Or will it be Hassan Whiteside? Will it be LeBron James?
To be the face of the Lakers, it’s important to embrace the bright lights and the pressure that comes with it. It’s essential to put on your best face at events and talk shows, to interact with the fans and carry yourself in a manner befitting the values of the storied franchise.
Therefore, the person who takes Bryant’s place will need the charisma and Hollywood personality needed to thrive in Los Angeles. Thus far, Russell has exhibited the needed ingredients. Can a 20-year-old handle the pressure, though?
Millions at stake…
Besides getting the franchise player tag which comes with a maximum-level contract, Bryant’s successor will have the opportunity to earn hundreds of millions of dollars from endorsement deals. According to Forbes, Bryant at 37 still makes close to $26 million from endorsements alone, besides the $23.5 million final year salary.
“The five-time NBA champion still has deals with Nike, Lenovo, Hublot and Panini, but is moving away from straight endorsement deals in favor of being part of businesses. His future includes Kobe Inc., which he set up in 2013. The firm’s first investment was $4-6 million in 2014 to buy more than 10% of emerging sports drink BodyArmor. Bryant will sit on BodyArmour’s board of directors and focus on the marketing and branding of the product,” according to the Forbes website.
Will Durant try to maximize his earnings by joining Los Angeles? A recent study revealed that he stands to make $100 million more in L.A. than playing elsewhere for the rest of his career.
Stay tuned for latest Lakers Rumors.