Kobe Bryant and the city of Atlanta have always had an interesting relationship.
On one hand, Lakers fans always pack Philips Arena for the team's annual visit, and many of those supporters arrive clad in Bryant jerseys. On the other, Bryant suffered a high-profile injury in Atlanta in March 2013 after the infamous Dahntay Jones incident and the Lakers and Hawks haven't exactly been "rivals" during his time in Los Angeles.
However, Friday night's contest will be special for folks in Atlanta, as Bryant visits for the final time before his retirement following the 2015-2016. To be frank, this is the only major story line for the Lakers this season, as they are one of the worst teams in the NBA, and Bryant is a transcendent player to the point where he absolutely should be celebrated. That will happen on this night.
As far as the on-court product is concerned, though, this is a big game for the Hawks. Atlanta imploded down the stretch in a brutal loss to Toronto on Wednesday, and while it is still (quite) early in the year, a lackluster performance against the ghastly Lakers would not ease the minds of anyone. This is a fantastic match-up, especially when it comes to Mike Budenholzer squaring off against Byron Scott, and to be honest, it would be a shock if the team wasn't motivated given the feeling in the locker room after the Raptors defeat.
All of the attention will be on Kobe Bryant on Friday, and that is understandable. Still, the Hawks have a game to win, and if they fall short, it won't be a good look.
Game Date/Time: Friday, December 4, 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM