“If I take a step back and I say ‘the Los Angeles Lakers,’” second-year forward Larry Nance Jr. said, “the first name I think of is still Kobe Bryant.”The Lakers are moving forward with a nucleus of young players and a likable, optimistic head coach. At 36, Luke Walton is the league’s youngest head man. He is four months younger, in fact, than Metta World Peace, who quipped, “It’s great to be playing for someone who wore diapers with me at the same time I was wearing diapers.”The pressure of replacing Bryant falls mostly on the shoulders of players who are in their first few years in the league: Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and rookie Brandon Ingram.Many of them remain in touch with Bryant. “He’s open to all of us,” Clarkson said.That apparently includes workouts.Randle said he spent time training with Bryant shortly before the start of the season.In one sense, Bryant’s absence means the young stars will be on their own, having lost the stewardship of an all-time great. A different perspective – a more cynical one, yes – is that they are also liberated from the shackles of sharing the court, ball and limelight with Bryant, who now busies himself with various business enterprises at his Newport Beach offices.“He was the head man around here last year,” Clarkson said. “It’s just kind of one of those things where you’ve got to pay your homage to someone that’s been here, and he earned every right to what we did last year, with his farewell tour. We were kind of just along for the ride at the time, trying to get better.”Clarkson said “it was just a tough situation for us.”Every new city meant a variation on the same celebration of Bryant. A video crew chronicled his every move. With boom mics overhead, few conversations were truly private. When Bryant moved through the locker room, a crowd followed.Think the Lakers will miss that side of playing with a legend?Clarkson struggled for the right words, saying “in terms of the team … people think it’s cool” that those distractions are gone.“Of course guys want to be a part of that stuff that happened last year in terms of the season and everything,” he said, “but some guys are kind of relieved and are happy about not having to see all that stuff and all that.”Without Bryant, Monday’s media day had a much looser feel. The contingent of international media members was smaller, the Lakers’ six foreign players, including China’s Yi Jianlian, no match for Bryant’s global brand.“I remember last year coming in here and the whole vibe was different,” Russell said. “Him not being here, it’s different.”Get used to it.“It was all about Kobe,” Russell continued. “Now, it’s a different headline. It’s about the young guys and it’s about the new coaching staff. There’s so many more headlines that you guys can talk about.”Once training camp begins Tuesday in Santa Barbara, coaches will begin tinkering with lineups, players will show off new skills honed over the summer, and it will all be scrutinized against the backdrop of the fact that, for the first time in 20 years, Bryant is not here.Or is he?“I can sense him,” World Peace said. “He is here. He’s always going to be here. This is the Lakers organization and the Mamba is still here.”Sometimes, if you go back to the building where he once reigned, you might even hear someone call out his name. “Coby!”Coby Karl, the new head coach of the Development League D-Fenders, poked his head out from behind a black curtain.You were expecting someone else?“Life,” Julius Randle said, “goes on. Just because Kobe’s retired, the Lakers organization’s not going to stop.”His name doesn’t hang on any banners inside the Toyota Sports Center or downtown at Staples Center. Not yet. But 20 years after Kobe Bryant arrived, and five months after he departed, Bryant remains a heavy presence around the Lakers. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error EL SEGUNDO >> It was the first new day since Mamba Out, and players milled about in the Lakers practice gym, bouncing from one station to another, posing for official photos, snapping selfies, pausing for interviews.It all made for a pretty routine media day, the rite of fall that announces the arrival of a new season, except for the palpable absence of someone who had not missed one of these in 20 years.Then someone called out, he yelled a name, and the two syllables echoed through the gymnasium that had heard them thousands of times before. Millions?It was that name. Did he say…?