The latest injury to Kobe Bryant hit the team hard, but is settling in just for me. I’m starting to realize why my predictions for the team are sub -.500, when I was asked at the beginning of the season.
As I’ve said before, the season is a marathon, not a sprint. There are ebbs and flows that occur during the regular season. No team out there really peaks for four months straight. No competitive team out there is really in the gutter for an entire season either.
We know Kobe Bryant. We expect him to bust his tail through recovery, and set new horizons as to what a career looks like post-surgery, even at this stage of his career. We admire him for that attribute.
But, here’s a tweet from Dr. Robert Klapper about Kobe Bryant’s injury.
Kobe Bryant is out for another 6 weeks with the recent knee injury. On top of that, he needs to get back into game shape all over again. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to balance the body, from left to right. Kareem adopted yoga late into his career and was able to make himself a more effective player into his late 30’s. Lamar Odom adopted boxing as training to get himself into better physical shape. Both of these methods require something that Kobe’s legs are currently struggling with, balance.
This is also part of the reason why I wanted Bryant back in January. The extra two weeks of hard practices and weight training could have helped Bryant along the recovery process more slowly. We’re not fighting for a championship this year, we’re fighting for one for future years. We want a Kobe Bryant that’s ready to attack in the future, not now.
Mike D’Antoni was stuck between a rock and a hard place to help make the team competitive. With the injuries to all of the point guards on the Laker roster, Kobe Bryant was next in line as a facilitator. It took a few good losses at first, but the team was learning to become clutch in the 4th quarter. We watched him slowly gain confidence in his talent. We watched him slowly reestablish the 1-2 punch between him and Gasol. We watched him slowly taking more Kobe-esque shots, fading away, hanging in the air, taking contact in the paint. He doesn’t know any different.
But, now is the time to incorporate wisdom into the situation. Older NBA players develop their jumpshot to make themselves more efficient as scorers without expending much energy. As much time as Derrick Rose has taken off for his injury, he’s out again. These are complicated matters and Bryant trying to rush through the process isn’t helping anyone. We need him to be ready when the roster is ready to truly compete. We all want his last years in the NBA full of joy, energy, and remember the same Kobe Bryant he has always been, not the injury-prone Bryant he is slowly becoming. Maybe then, NBA fans will actually appreciate the work he’s done on the basketball floor throughout the years. They may never see that kind of competitive spirit, resilience, determination, and talent all combined into one player again.