How active is the runway leading up to Kobe Bryant’s final game Wednesday?
Lakers employees need new words to express it.
“The game is going to be a ‘zircus’ — a zoo and a circus,” said long-time Lakers publicist John Black, who is responsible for plenty of behind-the-scenes work for Bryant’s farewell against Utah at Staples Center.
The team plans to bring in about 30 of Bryant’s former teammates, with commitments including Shaquille O’Neal, Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Ron Harper and, on the unique side, DJ Mbenga and Adam Morrison. Smush Parker, however, will not be there.
The rush for media credentials has also been lively.
The Lakers have already turned down hundreds of requests, Black said. There are typically 600 seats for media members in NBA Finals games at Staples Center, though it is unknown how many reporters, broadcasters, producers and whatever else the Lakers will be able to handle Wednesday.
“It’s absolutely unprecedented for the regular season,” Black said Friday. “Is it NBA Finals levels? Yes. It might be even bigger than that.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea will play the national anthem Jimi Hendrix-style and then there will be a tribute video a few minutes long.
Bryant, however, is sticking to his months-long credo that he doesn’t want elaborate gift presentations before games, a message the Lakers have told opposing teams before they play host to Bryant one last time.
The Lakers currently plan on privately giving him unspecified gifts before the game.
Bryant’s movie producers have requested five camera crews for Wednesday, a drastic increase from the one and sometimes two that have often followed him this season. Bryant is hoping to release a film about his final season, akin to what he did with his “Muse” production last year.
Publicly, he says he is trying not to think about his final game. Doesn’t want to get too emotional.
“I try to be basic as possible,” Bryant said. “If it’s going to make me emotional, I’d rather not think about it.”
One thing’s for sure. He won’t play all 48 minutes that night.
“No. Stop it,” he said before referencing an NBA video game. “Unless you’re playing on ‘2K.’ That’s about it.”
Atop Bryant’s list
The most memorable moment of Bryant’s 20-year career wasn’t when he scored 81 points. Or his rally-capping lob to O’Neal in the 2000 Western Conference finals.
It was a three-point shot against Boston in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. And it wasn’t his.
“I think in 2010 when Metta [World Peace] hit the shot,” Bryant said. “It says so much about us as a team and about him as a person and how much he’s evolved and how much we all supported each other. It wasn’t about the shot but the fact that as brothers he had the confidence and he understood he had the support to be able to take that shot.”
World Peace was still known as Ron Artest at the time and hit the shot with 1:01 left, giving the Lakers a 79-73 edge in a low-scoring game where every point truly mattered. The Lakers won, 83-79.
Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan
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