The only way Kobe Bryant could have ignored the comparisons to Michael Jordan would have included going blind and deaf.
Hang time? Check. Fade-away jumper? Check. The undying will to win? Check. Alleged infidelity? Check. Relationship with Phil Jackson? Check. Championship rings? Quadruple check. The only thing missing from Bryant's resume is a stint playing minor league baseball.
And like Jordan, Bryant embraces challenges of all shapes and sizes. So, here, I will propose to Kobe his next challenge.
Opt out of your contract and come to Chicago.
Allow me to point out that Bryant actually exercising his opt-out clause and leaving Los Angeles has odds that are as slim as me dating Erin Andrews on the regular or the Cubs offense showing signs of life.
Now, I understand it would take a lot of contract maneuvering (*cough*LuolDeng*cough*) on the Bulls' part and quite the ploy to lure the NBA's best player, but I have a legit pitch (which does not include any hotel workers) that could bring Bryant to a place he once predicted he would go.
Forwards Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza, who were X-Factors in the Lakers' championship run, will become free agents on July 1st and are unlikely to return unless the Los Angeles front office is willing to turn a blind-eye to the luxury tax fee it would incur if both come back.
Let's be real: Ariza will get dozens upon dozens of brown sacks with green dollar signs on them from some team because of his defensive ability and sharpshooting 3-point eye. Odom should get the same treatment, but maybe this time in the non-descript black briefcase form, as 6-foot-11-inch forwards with unlimited range and post-up moves do not grow on trees.
But it doesn't stop there as Jordan Farmar (restricted) and Derek Fisher (unrestricted) become free agents at the end of next season.
Then there is the case of Phil Jackson, who could do what he did in 1998 all over again, and ride out into the sunset with that elusive 10th ring on his finger.
Sure, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum form a formidable frontcourt duo on paper, but they still carry red flags in their back pockets. Bynum still has yet to put together a full, 82-game season under his belt as he has proven to be brittle in his young NBA career. And call me a hater, but just because Gasol rode Kobe to a title does not necessarily mean the soft label is immediately shed. He still settles for jumpers, and I didn't see him man-up on D-12 much in the Finals.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, a young explosive point guard by the name of Derrick Rose awaits. Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas can serve as frontcourt figures or trade bait, whichever Bryant prefer. Same goes with Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. With John Salmons and Brad Miller returning as role players next season, adding the world's best player only makes role players better.
Not to mention, the Bulls have a pair of first round picks in which the Bulls could use to draft bench help, or package in an attempt to bring Bryant a superstar sidekick.
Imagine Rose running the break flanked by Bryant on his right, Wayne Ellington on his left ready to spot up for three along with Noah and Thomas crashing the boards.
I think I just wet myself a little. Maybe if Bryant read this, he might, too.
Kobe, your work is done in Los Angeles. But you have some unfinished business in the City of Wind.