If you take him at his word, if you believe Kobe had a migraine that prevented him from delivering a 45 second speech to the fans who have trudged through this season and paid a lot of money to do so, then what he is telling you by his actions is that his “migraine” was worse than his Achilles injury last April. With his ruptured Achilles Kobe was able to make two free throws in blinding pain and altogether he was on the court for a few minutes. Then he gathered himself thirty minutes later and talked to reporters, tears still in his eyes, disappointment lodged in his throat. His foot was in shreds, his season in ruin, his career on life support. But he gutted it out because he is Kobe.
Migraines feel like the end of the world. They can be that debilitating. Bright lights make your brain crazy, you are sick to your stomach, all you want to do is lie down in the dark and in the quiet. For some people it is days before you recover. Kareem Abdul Jabaar suffered with migraines throughout his career and it caused him to miss some games. Migraines are a serious condition and science has not come up with a consensus on what brings them on and what stops them. Basically you take your medication and then you wait.
But this is Kobe. He plays through just about everything. A broken finger. A broken noise. A bad shoulder. A swollen ankle. He fractured his knee in the third quarter in Memphis and played the fourth. A migraine is worse than all of those things? I doubt it. What is worse than a ruptured Achilles and a broken nose and a ligament twisted finger and a knee with little cartilage is losing 54 games and acting as if it doesn’t matter. As if he is not angry about it. As if this is business as usual so say something to the fans. If he said something to the fans it would probably be a lie. Or vulgar. So he passed the baton. Pau Gasol said no too. Enter Nick Young. If this season had a hero Nick would be it
In early March Kobe talked about ‘die hard Lakers fans.’ He was referring to the expectations they have and he agreed with them. We win, that is what Lakers do. But ‘die hard Laker fans’ are currently sick to their stomach by this season. And so is Kobe. There is a good possibility that this Lakers team will have the second worst record in franchise history. The 1959-60 Lakers team won 25 games. This team has won 25 games. Driven by a get lucky or get humiliated perimeter offense means you won’t sustain much of anything. Forget defense if Mike D’antoni is your coach. Mike Conley is a nice point guard but not in the top 5, not Chris Paul, not Russell Westbrook, not Tony Parker, not Steph Curry, not Kyle Lowry. He destroyed the Lakers defense. He did whatever he wanted to do in the paint and on the perimeter and the Lakers were clueless to stop him.
Perhaps Kobe was being selfish and only thinking of himself and the pain he is in watching this. Watching Robert Sacre against Zach Randolph and Robert Sacre is so inept he travels with the ball. Watching Jordan Farmar take two dribbles and a bad shot. Watching Mike Miller open for an uncontested three. The fans want some glimmer of hope from Kobe. After all he is the Lakers spokesperson, their fire starter. But you can look at it another way too. Kobe’s self absorption is not necessarily a bad thing. It is why he is Kobe, why he can triumph over so much adversity. He knows what the fans know, the difference is he says out loud by saying nothing at all. In his case silence is everything. But it still stings. This season is enough to make you sick.