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OKC Thunder: Kobe Bryant show returns to Oklahoma City on Friday night

Kobe's star power remains strong, but the end of the NBA legend's career is drawing closer.
by Anthony Slater Published: December 12, 2013

It was Feb. 4, 2006.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were in high school. Serge Ibaka was in Spain. Steven Adams was 12-years-old.

And Kobe Bryant, in the midst of one of greatest stretches in NBA history, was in Oklahoma City.

He was a legend at the top of his powers. He was averaging 41 points in his previous 10 games. He had dropped an unfathomable 81 on the Toronto Raptors just 13 days earlier.

And he was bringing the NBA's most entertaining show to OKC for the first time.

The relocated New Orleans Hornets beat Kobe's Lakers on that night, despite his 35 points. But Bryant was the center of attention, an abuzz arena naturally drawn to him.

His demeanor, pedigree and legend will always make it that way. Even seven years later. Even after a crippling Achilles tear. Even when the home team features beloved stars and a 17-4 record.

Kobe's back in town on Friday night, leading his laboring Lakers against a heavily favored Thunder team.

OKC, still a perfect 10-0 at home, is expected to cruise. But Kobe and his rapid return from last April's Achilles tear will still dominate pregame talk.

“Kobe's just a fierce competitor,” Durant said. “I didn't even think twice about him coming back and how he would be or if he would lose a step.

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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