Kobe Bryant signs two-year extension with Lakers through 2016, will be highest paid player in NBA

Kobe Bryant is staying with the Lakers. Today the team announced that Bryant has signed a two-year extension, keeping him in LA through the 2016 season. From the press release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed Kobe Bryant to a two-year contract extension, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not released.

“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” said Kupchak. “We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, and this should ensure that that happens. To play 20 years in the NBA, and to do so with the same team, is unprecedented, and quite an accomplishment. Most importantly however, it assures us that one of the best players in the world will remain a Laker, bringing us excellent play and excitement for years to come.”

As Kupchak alluded to, this deal means Kobe will become the first player in NBA history to play 20 seasons all with the same team. And I love it. Having good enemies makes you feel alive. And make no mistake, Kobe has been a fun enemy to have. Still hurts to this day that the Celtics didn't finish off the Lakers in 2010 and go 2-0 vs Kobe in the Finals, as that would have been one hell of a feather in the cap of a guy like Paul Pierce.

This deal also means that Bryant fully intends to make a run at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record. At the moment Bryant is 6,770 points shy of Kareem, but with three seasons remaining on his deal (or more like 2.75 since Bryant hasn't returned from achilles surgery yet), Kobe should end up only a thousand or two points shy of Kareem by the time this deal ends. Considering Bryant will still only be 37 at that time..it seems likely that he'll try and stick around long enough to become the league's all-time points champ.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but according to Ramona Shelburne..Kobe gettin' paid.

2 years, $48.5 million for a 35 year old coming off a blown out achilles..crazy town. You would have thought that Kobe would have taken less money to improve his chances at a 6th ring, but apparently that's not the case. The Lakers would have had an opportunity to jump in on two max free agents this summer if Bryant took $12 million or less, but now the team will only be able to bring in one max guy (unless Steve Nash bails them out by retiring).

Also interesting side note - Kobe at this moment has made $279 million. KG has made $327 million, most in NBA history (through the end of KG's current contract). Something tells me Kobe knew he was $48 million away from that record as well..

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