Kobe Bryant hoops at LMU
Eager to catch a glimpse of Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, hundreds of Loyola Marymount University students Thursday afternoon surrounded the entrance gate toward the Gersten Pavilion.
Soon enough, Bryant emerged from the gym, wearing a sweatshirt, Nike shorts and shoes and a black hat while clutching his cellphone. Laker fans shouted his name, but he didn't look up until minutes later when he hung up his phone. He then flashed a smile and waved toward the onlookers before quickly hopping in the passenger seat of a sport utility vehicle with two other unidentified people.
Once the entrance gate opened, a few fans caught up to Bryant's passenger window, yelled his name and high-fived each other before the car quickly drove away. Attempts to enter the facility were unsuccessful, and one official said Bryant made specific orders to deny media access. Still, judging on the players exiting the building, it appeared Bryant played an unspecified number of scrimmages from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with Laker teammates Metta World Peace and Darius Morris as well as Oklahoma City's James Harden and Toronto's DeMar DeRozan, both L.A. natives.
None of the players granted interviews, while World Peace politely urged me not to talk to him. "You're going to be late for Kobe," he said.
Plenty of Bryant's off-season has entailed fielding offers from teams in Turkey, China and Italy as well as attending a few of the bargaining sessions between the NBA owners and players union. But he's also squeezed in a few basketball exhibitions. That included a two-game appearance in the Philippines in early August and a surprise appearance at the Drew League where he scored 43 points, including the game winner against Harden. ESPN's Chris Broussard has also reported Bryant may represent a handful of other NBA stars embarking on a two-week barnstorming tour from Oct. 30 through Nov. 8 with stops in Puerto Rico, London, Macau and Australia.
But for now, Bryant's strictly keeping things local.
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Photo credit: Matteo Bazzi / EPA / September 28, 2011