Is Kobe Bryant too competitive?

Kobe plays through the pain, but at what cost?

I never thought that I would actually ponder this question. Just speaking the words makes my skin crawl. As a diehard Laker fan I’ve seen some of the greatest players to ever step on the hardwood lace em’ up and go to work with nagging injuries, illness and off-court issues that would cause the layman to take a couple personal days just to sort things out.

Let me begin by saying that Kobe Bryant is, to me, the greatest to ever play the game. His offensive game is comprised of the most dynamic skill set any human being has ever had. His defense is off the charts and anyone who has every played will tell you that defense is all about desire. You can run a 4.2 second 40-yard dash and have a 45-inch vertical but all that means nothing unless you have the will and determination to lock your man down.

All that being said, what makes Kobe better than everybody else is his desire to win. KB24 is the most competitive player in the history of American sports. He shows up every night no matter what his health status might be and plays each game like it’s his last.

This trait has endeared him to Laker fans worldwide but it also has the possibility to create some dicey circumstances.

The calendar reads January 14th, but Kobe is playing through injuries like its June.

While I respect him for his dedication to his teammates, I’m beginning to wonder if his competitive nature is getting the best of him.

Last night in Dallas, Kobe’s back was clearly holding him back. Still, he drained a big shot late in the fourth quarter that saved the Lake Show from what would have been a terrible meltdown.

Let it be known that I’m not asking Kobe to go T-Mac on his team. I’m just asking that he gives himself some rest as this season is going to be a long one. Between his injured finger and those nasty back spasms, Bryant is having to tough it out just to get warm for the game. Never mind what he’s going though once the ball is tipped.

Check the schedule and you’ll see a two game homestand against the Clippers and Magic followed by an eight game road trip that won’t have KB back home to Vanessa until February.

Allow me to do the math for you.

That’s 10 games in 18 days including two back-to-backs on the road. That equates to a lot of flying which is not an ideal remedy for an ailing back.  

The less Kobe sees of Vitti, the better.

Not to mention his recently flat jumper that is surely a result of that bad digit on his shooting hand. I cringe every time Kobe picks another pocket, anticipating Gary Vitti running to his side as he grabs his hand in pain. 

No doubt the Lakers needed Kobe last night even if he spent the better part of three quarters picking and choosing his spots. His mere presence opens up the court for Lamar Odom to do what he does best – everything. Kobe’s leadership provides Andrew Bynum with some added motivation to go out there and become everything we all know he is capable of  being – a low post beast.

While Kobe knows his team badly needs him during the continued absence of Pau Gasol, he also must know that his team needs him healthy during the most important phase of the season – post All-Star break.

To answer my own preposterous question: No Kobe Bryant is not too competitive. By simply saying that I’m sure he’d be even more motivated just to prove how much more competitive he can be.

However, he is a human being just like you and me. Therefore, his body cannot heal any quicker than his age would dictate relative to the wear and tear he’s endured. Fourteen years into his career, Kobe has played through all kinds of pains and personal tragedies. He doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone except himself at this point. But he does need to be in one piece come the end of April. Otherwise, all his great efforts in January will be for not.