CHICAGO – Everyone else on these Los Angeles Lakers had showered, dressed and bundled themselves to march out into the coldest night across the past two winters here. As the clock lurched past midnight in the losing locker room, the team bus gone, Kobe Bryant still wore his purple and gold jersey inside a tiny cubicle.
For some reason, he was holding onto one more night, one more loss, a little longer on Monday. He had marched past the Michael Jordan statue in the United Center, embraced Scottie Pippen courtside and understood he had never been so far away from those six championship banners hanging above him.
One more to go, and yet Monday night had been another cruel installment that Bryant no longer plays on a championship contender, that the parts, the system, the plan, is spiraling deeper and deeper into the abyss. Seven games under .500, four games out of the playoff picture and an unraveling in the final minutes of a 95-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls. READ MORE