LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Once again, Kobe Bryant is set to make NBA history with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 37-year-old Bryant will take the floor Wednesday at Staples Center along with seven Lakers who have one year or less of NBA experience as the team begins its 68th season with the modest hope of returning to respectability.
When Bryant – who is expected to play after suffering a contusion in his lower left leg earlier this month – enters the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, it will mark his 20th season in the NBA, all with the Lakers, an NBA record for a player with one organization.
Bryant during pre-game warmups.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 29, 2015
He’ll also become only the fifth player in league history to play at least 20 NBA seasons, an honor he’ll share at Thursday night’s game with Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett, who will begin his 21st season when he enters the game.
They join the retired Robert Parish and Kevin Willis, who both played 21 seasons, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played 20.
The Lakers finished 21-61 last season – the team’s worst ever – after losing Bryant for the final 39 games because of a right rotator cuff tear, leading to the team missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season for the second time.
The Lakers have never missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons, but with so many new faces, it could end up being yet another history-making season for all the wrong reasons.
Four rookies — including guard D’Angelo Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in this summer’s NBA draft – will be in the lineup for the Lakers, along with the team’s other newcomers, including Roy Hibbert, expected to be the starting center, and guard Lou Williams, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year last season when he averaged a career-best 15.5 points per game with the Toronto Raptors.
Forward Metta World Peace is also back for a second stint with the Lakers following an absence of two seasons.
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