Los Angeles Lakers fans still came to Target Center on Sunday night wearing jerseys of both the Nos. 24 and 8 varieties, but Kobe Bryant, of course, was nowhere to be found.
Instead, a young, athletic, winning Lakers team has taken his place, one that new Lakers coach Luke Walton foresees could play an even younger Timberwolves team in the West for years to come.
“If things go the way both organizations would like,” Walton said.
The NBA moves ahead now without Bryant in L.A., without Tim Duncan in San Antonio, without Kevin Garnett in Minnesota, Brooklyn, Boston or elsewhere.
“It’s almost a changing of the guard right now for a lot of teams,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You’re talking about three guys who have been iconic in our league and you associate them with the franchise they’re with. I knew Kobe when he was in high school, so watching him grow and see the things he accomplished, pretty amazing.
“It’s part of the Laker culture and he embraced it and he starred in it. Time catches up to everybody. It doesn’t last forever. Certainly, you admire and respect what they accomplish in their careers.”