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Kobe Bryant takes off for France before Lakers season ends

Professional BasketballLos Angeles LakersKobe BryantNick Van ExelStaples CenterNick Young

SAN ANTONIO -- While the Lakers prepared for their last game of the season, Kobe Bryant was already beginning his off-season.

Bryant went to France with family members either Tuesday or Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times has learned. The Lakers conclude their season Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs.

A team spokesman said he was unaware of the situation and referred a reporter to Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, who did not immediately return a phone call.

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.

The Lakers (26-55) have never lost this many games and have been out of playoff contention for a month.

[UPDATED: 2:25 p.m. PDT, April 16: Bryant later tweeted he was trying to forget what happened this season:

S*** season. Flush it. Forget it #amnesia Next Season will be epic #blackout #bussfam

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 16, 2014

Bryant was supposed to address Lakers fans before the team's home finale Sunday but showed up at Staples Center near halftime because of a migraine headache, a Lakers spokesman said. Instead of Bryant, Nick Young grabbed a microphone before tip-off against Memphis and called Lakers fans "the best in the world."

Bryant has not played since sustaining a fractured knee in December. He appeared in only six games this season, missing the first 19 while recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon.

Bryant, 35, made $30.5 million this season. He is under contract for two more years and $48.5 million.

It's not the first time a Lakers player has ended a season erratically.

Former guard Nick Van Exel infamously concluded a practice with a "1, 2, 3...Cancun" huddle break in 1998 as the Lakers were about to get swept by Utah in the Western Conference finals. He later said he was joking when he did it.

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Professional BasketballLos Angeles LakersKobe BryantNick Van ExelStaples CenterNick Young
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