What an understatement it is to say what a difference a year makes, a simple observation that would fail miserably in recapping everything the Lakers faced when last season's training camp began in Hawaii 362 days ago.
Andrew Bynum was drifting far outside the NBA ring of relevancy, Phil Jackson was hobbling around with a cane, and Kobe Bryant was circling awkwardly above it all, neither he nor his teammates knowing what would unfold the rest of the way -- or even if he would still be a Laker when the regular season rolled around.
Of course, it all turned out pretty well for the Lakers, give or take a couple of losses in the NBA Finals, leading to a decidedly sunnier sum of players at the team's annual media day Monday in El Segundo.
Bryant was again trailed by a flood of reporters as he recorded promo after promo for the Lakers' TV and radio partners, but the media mob didn't exude the breathless "When is he leaving town?" tenor of a year ago.
Instead, Bryant was jovial, buoyant, even eager to discuss his thoughts on the Lakers as they begin preparations today for the upcoming season, Bryant's 13th with the team.