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If ever there were a superstar whose accidental absence from a recruiting meeting with Carmelo Anthony would be forgiven, it is Kobe Bryant.

That's what took place on Thursday in Los Angeles, where the former New York Knicks star who is finalizing his free agent tour arrived at the Lakers practice facility to find that Bryant was nowhere to be found. The Lakers star and close friend of Anthony's was still flying back from a family vacation in Greece, so Anthony and his associates commenced without him as the week of wooing continued.

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Lakers executives Jim Buss, Jeanie Buss and Mitch Kupchak were all in attendance. There was no word on whether an empty chair would be part of the program to represent the coaching vacancy that they intentionally have left unfilled because of moments like this.

A person with knowledge of the meeting said Bryant couldn't make it but Lakers legend James Worthy was also part of the program. There was a Hollywood-style addition as well, as movie producer Joel Silver was there to meet Anthony and sell him on the glitz-and-glam aspect that comes with their city. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the process.

Yet here's the thing about this Lakers pitch that is considered far-fetched by the rival teams also courting Anthony: He can talk to Bryant any time he wants. Anthony — whose gold medals won with Bryant in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics are the crown jewels of his professional career — has an offseason home in Los Angeles and may very well wind up chewing on his life-changing decision in Bryant's favorite city over the weekend.

That isn't to say the Lakers are in the lead here — far from it. One front office executive whose team is among the five in the running for Anthony (Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and Lakers) is currently of the belief Anthony will choose between the Knicks, Bulls or Rockets. The executive spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.

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The beautiful city of Athens with my Latina Aphrodite @ladyvb24 and hangin at the stadium where the first modern Olympics was held in 1896 #mambadontselfie but #mambajustselfied #athens #greece #acropolis #athena #zeus #olympus #efharisto

A decision is not expected by Thursday, although the New York Post reported that the Knicks, who expect to visit with Anthony after the Lakers, are hoping to get answer by then. According to the person with knowledge of the situation, Anthony did not tell the Lakers when they could expect a decision.

The Lakers, by most accounts, simply can't sell the same sort of winning formula that Anthony can find elsewhere. Still, nobody's more willing to take the game-winning shot than the one and only Bryant. He'll likely have his say in some form, trying to convince Anthony that the well-chronicled dysfunction between the Lakers' decision makers has been worked out and that he could be a hero for helping rebuild the storied franchise.

The shot will likely come up short in the end, but not because of Bryant's unexpected absence at the start.

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