Bryant kicks off hoops goodbye tour in hometown of Philly

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Kobe Bryant Announces His Retirement in a Poem


PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Kobe Bryant's farewell tour begins in the city that loves and hates him.

Bryant will play his first road game since announcing he'll retire after this season in his hometown Tuesday night against the winless Philadelphia 76ers (0-18).

The five-time NBA champion's relationship with Philly fans has been turbulent throughout his 20-year NBA career in Los Angeles. Some love him. Some hate him. Regardless, nearly everyone respects his superstar talent.

SEE MORE: Top 50 players who spent their whole careers with one team

With the 76ers, Eagles and Flyers all struggling, Bryant's return was a hot topic on sports radio on Monday.

"I always enjoyed watching Kobe play and consider him one of the greatest ever, but he didn't want to play for the Sixers so I held that against him," said longtime Philadelphia sports fan John Passero. "But if the Sixers couldn't win it all, I rooted for Kobe."

No doubt, Bryant will get a rousing ovation in an arena where he's heard mostly boos over the past two decades. People don't come to watch the Sixers, who've lost an NBA record 28 straight games and are one defeat away from breaking the league record for most losses to start a season. Fans come to see marquee opponents and nobody fills the seats like Kobe.

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Bryant kicks off hoops goodbye tour in hometown of Philly
Kobe Bryant, 17, jokes with the media as he holds his Los Angeles Lakers jersey during a news conference Friday, July 12, 1996, at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Bryant was acquired from the Charlotte Hornets by the Lakers Thursday in exchange for veteran center Vlade Divac. (AP Photo/Susan Sterner)
CLEVELAND - FEBRUARY 8: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers soars for a dunk during the 1997 Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk Contest on February 8, 1997 at the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1997 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, UNITED STATES: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant(L) and Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan(R) talk during a free-throw attempt during the fourth quarter 17 December at the United Center in Chicago. Bryant, who is 19 and bypassed college basketball to play in the NBA, scored a team-high 33 points off the bench, and Jordan scored a team-high 36 points. The Bulls defeated the Lakers 104-83. AFP PHOTO VINCENT LAFORET (Photo credit should read VINCENT LAFORET/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - FEBRUARY 8: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks during the 1998 NBA All-Star Game played on February 8, 1998 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1998 NBAE (Photo by Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)
03/02/98 - MCI Center - Lakers' Kobie Bryant(L) listens to teammate Shaquille O'Neal as they sit on the bench during game against the Wizards. - Photo By Rich Lipski TWP (Photo by Rich Lipski/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
USA - 1999: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a layup during a 1999 NBA game. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1999 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant gestures to the crowd at the end of the second period against the Denver Nuggets in Los Angeles Monday, Jan. 10, 2000. (AP Photo/Michael Caulfield)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 19: Shaquille O'Neal #34 and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers pose with Lakers legend Magic Johnson after winning the NBA Championship trophy after defeating the Indiana Pacers in Game Six of the 2000 NBA Finals on June 19, 2000 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2000 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant reaches back for a rebound during the first half of game four of the Western Conference semifinals against the Sacramento Kings Sunday, May 13, 2001, in Sacramento, Calif. The Lakers won the game, 119-113, to sweep the series. (AP Photo/Mark Terrill)
28 Dec 2001: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers chilling out before their game against the Toronto Raptors at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. DIGITAL IMAGE. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Licence Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright 2001 NBAE. Mandatory Credit: Catherine Steenkeste/ NBAE/ Getty Images
Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant, right, slips around the defense of San Antonio Spurs Bruce Bowen during the first quarter of the season opener Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2002, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant points at teammate Robert Horry, not shown, during their 98-82 loss to the New Orleans Hornets, Friday, Dec. 13, 2002, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates victory following Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won the National Basketball Association championships defeating Orlando 99-86 for their 15th title and first since 2002. Bryant had 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Lakers completed a four-games-to-one victory in the best-of-seven NBA Finals. AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 27: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for the shot over Ben Wallace #3 of the Detroit Pistons during the game at Staples Center on February 27, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Pistons 95-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: 2003 NBAE. (Photo by: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO - MAY 7: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers answers questions from the press after Game two of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2003 NBA Playoffs at SBC Center on May 7, 2003 in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs won 114-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Copyright 2003 NBAE (Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant is fouled as he drives between Milwaukee Bucks' T.J. Ford, left, and Joe Smith in the first quarter Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2003, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant reacts after hitting the game-winning basket in the Lakers' 101-99 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday, Dec. 19, 2003, in Los Angeles. Bryant was in court for a pretrial hearing on his sexual assualt charge in Eagle, Colo., earlier Friday and missed the first quarter. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, right, yells at referee Tony Brown about a foul call during the second half of their game against the Toronto Raptors, Wednesday night, Nov. 12, 2003, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant flies to the basket for two points against the Houston Rockets' during the first quarter of their first-round Western Conference NBA playoff game Monday, Apr. 19, 2004, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Kobe Bryant answers questions during a press conference held at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, Calif.. Thursday, July 15, 2004. Bryant chose the Lakers over the Clippers, remaining with the team he joined in 1996 at age 18 and later helped win three NBA championships. (Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant dribbles the ball against the Washington Wizards during the second quarter in an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 26, 2005, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (8) celebrates as he walks off the basketball court with teammate Smush Parker after defeating the Phoenix Suns 99-98 in overtime, Sunday, April 30, 2006, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant misses a layup during an NBA first-round playoff basketball game against the Phoenix Suns Sunday, April 23, 2006, in Phoenix. Bryant, who went 7-21 in shooting, had 22 points as the Suns won 107-102 to go up 1-0 in the best-of-seven series. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, TOP, goes up for a shot between the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce, left, and Al Jefferson during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Friday, Feb. 23, 2006. (AP Photo/Branimir Kvartuc)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant reacts after a foul was called in the Lakers' favor during their 108-103 victory over the Golden State Warriors in an NBA basketball game on Monday, Jan. 22, 2007, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, LEFT, tries to keep the ball away from Phoenix Suns' Raja Bell during the first half of their first round Western Conference NBA playoff game, Thursday, April 26, 2007, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant attempts a free throw during a basketball game against the Houston Rockets in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, right, as forward Bruce Bowen (12) and guard Tony Parker (9), of France, look on during the first quarter of their NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Kobe Bryant talks during a media availability at an NBA All-Star basketball game event in New Orleans on Friday, Feb. 15, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, gestures as Sacramento Kings guard John Salmons (15) looks on after their NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 12, 2008 in Los Angeles. The Lakers 112-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, left, comes down with the ball as New Orleans Hornets' James Posey is called for a personal and technical foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant puts up a shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Sunday, April 12, 2009, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 92-75. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant signals teammates during a time out against the Sacramento Kings in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 26, 2009. The Lakers won in double overtime 112-103. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)
President Barack Obama stands with Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 25, 2010, during a ceremony honoring the 2009 NBA basketball champions Los Angeles Lakers. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant goes up for a shot during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Friday, Dec. 31, 2010, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 102-98. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives toward the basket during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 92-89. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2012, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers, from left, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, of Spain, pause during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Los Angeles. Nash will miss the entire season because of a back injury, the Lakers announced Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, putting the two-time NBA MVP point guard's career in doubt. Nash has played in only 65 games since the Lakers traded four draft picks for him in 2012 in a spectacularly failed attempt to assemble a title contender built around Bryant, Howard, Gasol and Nash. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant shoots during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, center, gets double teamed by Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) and center JaVale McGee, right, as he drives to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)
NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant of Los Angeles Lakers attends a promotional event with fans in a stadium in Shanghai, China, Monday August 3, 2015. (AP Photo)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant smiles on the court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Cavaliers won 120-108. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant smiles as he arrives for the last NBA basketball game of his career, against thw Utah Jazz, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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Born in Philadelphia, Bryant spent much of his childhood living in Italy where his father, Joe Bryant, played pro basketball for several years. When his family moved back to the United States, Bryant went to Lower Merion High School, located in an affluent suburb about nine miles west of downtown Philadelphia.

He once said early in his career that he wasn't from Philly because he didn't live within the city limits. That didn't sit well with local fans.

"He was a spoiled rich kid who grew up in a fancy suburb," said Louis Manitti, a former season ticketholder. "He was never one of us. He wasn't a hard-working blue-collar guy."

Local media were critical when Bryant decided to skip college and turn pro in 1996. The Sixers had the first pick that year and chose Allen Iverson. Bryant went 13th to Charlotte, which traded him to Los Angeles. Bryant's dad played four seasons with the Sixers, but he declared he grew up rooting for the Lakers. Of course, Sixers fans didn't appreciate that slight.

But nothing turned fans against Bryant more than a bold statement he made during the 2001 NBA Finals when the Lakers played Philadelphia. Iverson led the Sixers to a victory on the road in Game 1 and the Lakers won Game 2. Afterward, Bryant said he wanted to come home and "cut their hearts out" by winning the series in Philadelphia. The Lakers did just that, winning three straight games to clinch the NBA championship.

"I liked Kobe until he said he wanted to rip our hearts out," said Michael Rivers, a part-time season ticketholder. "He was too cocky, too arrogant and that was too personal. Just say you want to win and that's enough."

Bryant has never apologized for that comment.

"I'm not apologizing for saying I'm going to come kick some (butt)," Bryant told reporters before a game in Philadelphia in 2012. "I'm just not going to do it. But I certainly embrace the city and I love everything that it's taught me. So, I'm deeply appreciative of it."

The folks at Bryant's former high school certainly appreciate him. Bryant often returned to Lower Merion High School when the Lakers came to Philly. He's given pep talks to the basketball team, worked out at the practice gym and also donated about $500,000 to the school. His former high school coach, Gregg Downer, said Bryant still wears his Aces shorts under his Lakers shorts.

At a dedication ceremony for the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium five years ago, Bryant told the crowd at the high school: "This is where I came from. This is where I grew up. I didn't go to college. This is my university. This is where my memories lie."

HIGHEST PAID NBA PLAYERS:

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Bryant kicks off hoops goodbye tour in hometown of Philly

#25 Tobias Harris — $16.0 million

Team: Orlando Magic

Position: Small Forward

Contract: 4 years, $64.0 million

One thing to know: After making just $6.8 million in his first four NBA seasons, Harris will make that in the Magic's first 35 games this season.

(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

#20t Greg Monroe — $16.4 million

Team: Milwaukee Bucks

Position: Center

Contract: 3 years, $51.4 million

One thing to know: Landing coveted big man Monroe was a big reason the Bucks were one of this off-season's biggest winners.

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

#20t Wesley Matthews — $16.4 million

Team: Dallas Mavericks

Position: Shooting Guard

Contract: 4 years, $70.1 million

One thing to know: Matthews may have been the biggest winner in the DeAndre Jordan fiasco, with the Mavs throwing $70 million at him thinking he would be paired with a powerful inside force. Now he has a huge contract and will be leaned on even more to carry the team.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

#20t Kawhi Leonard — $16.4 million

Team: San Antonio Spurs

Position: Small Forward

Contract: 5 years, $94.3 million

One thing to know: Yes, Leonard is already an NBA star to those who know, but this could be the year he breaks out of the shadow of the Spurs' Big 3 and finally becomes a household name.

(AP Photo/Darren Abate)

#20t Enes Kanter — $16.4 million

Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

Position: Center

Contract: 4 years, $70.1 million

One thing to know: Kanter's $70 million contract may have been the most polarizing deal of the summer and may have been spurned by an effort to show Kevin Durant that the team is committed to winning.

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

#20t Kyrie Irving — $16.4 million

Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

Position: Point Guard

Contract: 5 years, $94.3 million

One thing to know: Irving is going to miss a big chunk of the first year under his new deal as there is still no timetable for his return from a fractured kneecap. 

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

#19 Russell Westbrook — $16.7 million

Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

Position: Point Guard

Contract: 5 years, $78.6 million

One thing to knowOne NBA executive thinks Westbrook will end up with the Lakers when he hits free agency in 2017.

(Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)

#18 Paul George — $17.1 million

Team: Indiana Pacers

Position: Small Forward

Contract: 5 years, $91.6 million

One thing to know: George still has three years left on his contract and it could become a problem as the Pacers experiment with a smaller lineup. The change means George will move to the power forward spot, something he is not happy about.

(Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

#17 Paul Millsap — $18.7 million

Team: Atlanta Hawks

Position: Power Forward

Contract: 3 years, $60.2 million

One thing to know: A 2-time All-Star, Millsap was one of the bigger bargains in the NBA each of the last two seasons when his salary was $9.5 million each year. That came to an end this summer when he re-signed with the Hawks as a free agent.

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

#16 Blake Griffin — $18.9 million

Team: Los Angeles Clippers,

Position: Power Forward

Contract: 5 years, $94.5 million

One thing to know: Griffin has two years left before he can opt out of his contract. He will be one of the bigger free agents in the summer of 2017 when he will be 28 years old.

(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

#11t Marc Gasol — $19.7 million

Team: Memphis Grizzlies

Position: Center

Contract: 5 years, $113.2 million

One thing to know: Marc Gasol was another one of the top free agents this summer, but in the end, he accepted a max. contract to stay with the Grizzlies.

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

#11t Kevin Love — $19.7 million

Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

Position: Power Forward

Contract: 5 years, $113.2 million

One thing to know: Love ended any speculation that he would bolt Cleveland after one season, or possibly sign a 1-year deal and bolt next summer, when he signed a 5-year deal with the Cavs. Coach David Blatt has since spent the summer figuring out how to help Love dominate again.

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

#11t LaMarcus Aldridge — $19.7 million

Team: San Antonio Spurs

Position: Power Forward

Contract: 4 years, $84.1 million

One thing to know: The Spurs signed the most coveted free agent of the summer, but coach Gregg Popovich had to promise that he will coach for at least four more years.

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler /NBAE via Getty Images)

#11t Brook Lopez — $19.7 million

Team: Brooklyn Nets

Position: Center

Contract: 3 years, $63.5 million

One thing to know: Lopez re-signed with the Nets after opting out of a $16.7 million salary in the final year of his old deal. The deal includes protection for the Nets in case Lopez' foot injuries keep him out of action again. He can also opt out of the third year of the deal.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

#11t DeAndre Jordan — $19.7 million

Team: Los Angeles Clippers

Position: Center

Contract: 4 years, $87.6 million

One thing to know: In what may go down as the craziest free agency signing in NBA history, Jordan went from signing with the Mavs to re-signing with the Clippers in a span of 12 hours, all while an emoji war erupted.

(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

#10 Dwyane Wade — $20 million

Team: Miami Heat

Position: Shooting Guard

Contract: 1 years, $20.0 million

One thing to know: Wade opted out of a $16 million option for the season as it seemed he was looking for a larger long-term deal. He didn't get that, but it wasn't a total failure as he signed a 1-year, $20 million deal and will still be a free agent during next summer's spending frenzy.

(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

#9 Derrick Rose — $20.1 million

Team: Chicago Bulls

Position: Point Guard

Contract: 5 years, $94.3 million

One thing to know: Rose has two years left on his contract and if he can show he can stay relatively healthy, somebody will throw a lot of money at him in 2017.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

#8 Kevin Durant — $20.2 million

Team: Oklahoma City Thunder,

Position: Small Forward

Contract: 5 years, $89.2 million

One thing to know: With Durant set to hit free agency next summer, speculation is running wild about where he will end up. In the meantime, the Thunder finally opened the vault to show they are willing to spend, going well over the salary cap to re-sign center Enes Kanter.

(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

#7 Chris Paul — $21.5 million

Team: Los Angeles Clippers

Position: Point Guard

Contract: 5 years, $107.3 million

One thing to know: Chris Paul has two years left on his contract and a third year he can opt out of. But this season could be Paul's best shot at a championship, especially after the Clippers fixed their biggest weakness.

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

#6 Chris Bosh — $22.2 million

Team: Miami Heat

Position: Center

Contract: 5 years, $118.7 million

One thing to know: Bosh surprised many when re-signed with the Heat prior to last season, but after picking up the steal of the NBA Draft, it looks like Miami is going to be good again sooner than expected.

(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

#5 Dwight Howard — $22.4 million

Team: Houston Rockets

Position: Center

Contract: 4 years, $87.6 million

One thing to know: Dwight Howard can opt out of his contract after this season and enter free agency for what is likely his last big pay day at age 30.

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

#4 Carmelo Anthony — $22.9 million

Team: New York Knicks

Position: Small Forward

Contract: 5 years, $124.1 million

One thing to know: Anthony re-signed with the Knicks prior to last season and now it looks like a mistake for the team as they have been unable to sign big-name free agents and now have an aging veteran with a squad that is in rebuilding mode.

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

#3 LeBron James — $23.0 million

Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

Position: Small Forward

Contract: 2 years, $47.0 million

One thing to know: LeBron keeps signing one-year contracts in order to take advantage of the upcoming surge in the salary cap and it's going to make him millions.

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

#2 Joe Johnson — $24.9 million

Team: Brooklyn Nets

Position: Shooting Guard

Contract: 6 years, $123.7 million

One thing to know: Johnson has made $173.8 million in his career, making him one of the 25 highest-paid NBA players of all time.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

#1 Kobe Bryant — $25.0 million

Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Position: Shooting Guard

Contract: 2 years, $48.5 million

One thing to know: Kobe Bryant is on the last year of his contract and there is speculation that, at 37 years old, this could be his final season. And yet, Bryant has never said this and Phil Jackson doesn't think Kobe is ready to retire. But will the Lakers want him back? Some think the team should play hard ball with Kobe if he decides to keep playing.

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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