Games Kobe Bryant competes in for the remainder of the 2015-16 season have taken on a far greater significance since "The Black Mamba" formally announced his intention to retire from the NBA once the campaign comes to a close.
Opposing teams have begun paying homage to the five-time champion during his recent road outings with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Philadelphia 76ers honored Bryant - a native of the city - following the player introductions with a jersey presentation of his No. 24 from Lower Merion High School.
The Washington Wizards, who the Lakers defeated for their third victory of the season Wednesday, stuck to a video tribute, as will the Atlanta Hawks on Friday evening. Bryant would prefer if other teams went that route in the future, if they so choose to acknowledge his career at all.
The 17-time All-Star has requested not to have any more on-court presentations during his unofficial farewell tour, as he doesn't want to detract from the game at hand, according to Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding.
Bryant has been outspoken in the past on how he didn't want the focus to be solely on him during the final outings of his storied career. During Lakers media day in September, he mentioned how the last thing he wanted was for his last season to be similar to that of former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, and how he was showered with gifts at every stadium he competed in.
"He and I couldn't be any more opposite personalities," Bryant said. "We're completely different people. I couldn't do that."
Bryant's recent 15-game stretch may be the worst of his 20 years with the Lakers franchise. He's converting just 31.1 percent of his field-goal attempts for 16.8 points per game. Nonetheless, regardless of his poor play, Bryant's final months in the league will continue to be celebrated, with teams hopefully honoring his wishes by keeping any tributes subtle, brief, and away from the hardwood.