NEW YORK (AP) — It’s off to Florida now for Kobe Bryant, for two more games that will potentially be his last in those cities.
The Los Angeles Lakers visit Miami on Tuesday and are in Orlando the next night. Yet even if he thinks these are his last trips, don’t count on him squeezing in a stop on South Beach to test a restaurant recommendation, or hop over to Walt Disney World for souvenir shopping.
If Bryant didn’t do it his first 19 seasons, he won’t start now.
“I don’t break routine,” Bryant said. “I try not to do anything different. Even if it could be my last time there, I try not to do anything different, I try to just honor everything I’ve been doing throughout my career.”
That’s what he wants the opponents he’s visiting to do.
If they want to know how to treat what could be Bryant’s final appearance before retirement, Bryant said they should take a page from Michael Jordan’s last All-Star Game in 2003.
Before that game, Jordan told Bryant to compete against him like it was any other game.
“And I said, ‘Michael, what the hell about me led you to think I was going to approach this any differently?’” Bryant said with a laugh. “But I think that’s the greatest sign of respect. I feel the same way where I sit now, is that it’s about the competition that shows the greatest sign of respect.”
The Lakers have a road-heavy start that gets many of Bryant’s potential last visits out of the way early, but coach Byron Scott said he doesn’t focus much on that.
“We don’t know what the future holds and I don’t know what Kobe plans on doing after this season, so what I try to do is just enjoy the time that he’s here,” Scott said.
It’s a week of homecomings, going home and revisiting a home that wasn’t.
A look at some of those games:
GEE, WONDER WHAT THEY’LL TALK ABOUT?: Kevin Durant may not enjoy this trip home as much as usual, since Oklahoma City’s visit to Washington on Tuesday will surely lead to questions about his free agency next summer. The Wizards are considered top suitors.
DEANDRE IN BIG D: DeAndre Jordan’s first trip to Dallas since verbally committing to play for the Mavericks, then backing out to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers comes Wednesday night. The Clippers already routed the Mavs in Los Angeles.
BLAZING THE TRAIL BACK TO PORTLAND: Also Wednesday, the San Antonio Spurs visit the Trail Blazers. It’s the first game there for LaMarcus Aldridge, one of Portland’s best players, since leaving in July after eight seasons.
MILE HIGH FOR TY: The Nuggets finally moved on from Ty Lawson and his troubles when they traded him to Houston over the summer, and he returns to Denver on Friday with a Rockets team that seems to be getting used to having him in the backcourt with James Harden.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK: Dwight Howard, Houston: 10 for 10, 23 points. Howard sent a reminder he could be relied on for offense on a team that mostly covets his defense in 119-114 overtime victory over Orlando on Wednesday.
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