Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The cynics will say all Kobe Bryant has done these last three games is what he should have been doing all along – pass the rock more. The hoops connoisseurs will recognize an unheard of reinvention on-the-fly as one of the games all-time greats has changed his game seemingly overnight. Both sides of the argument have their merit and somewhere in between the truth can be found in this barbershop debate.
Fact of the matter is what Kobe has done during this stunning turnaround in what was an otherwise forgettable season for the Los Angeles Lakers is something never before seen.
Imagine if Peyton Manning suddenly became a scrambling quarterback. Think of how shocking it would be to see Derek Jeter suddenly morphed into a power hitter. Consider how surreal it would be to see Charlie Sheen sober.
That’s pretty much what Kobe’s best Magic Johnson impersonation during this modest three game win streak has been like. Never before has player so dramatically altered his approach to the game he plays in such a short period of time.
It was just one week ago that all appeared lost for the Lake Show. Dwight Howard’s moody disposition, Pau Gasol’s displeasure with his new role, Mike D’Anonti’s frozen expression of confusion and Laker fans bemoaning what could have been with Phil Jackson on board were symbols of an epic failure.
Then something strange happened.
Kobe Bryant woke up one morning with the epiphany that he could do a better job running the show than future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash. To put in those terms makes this new Bryant seem arrogant. But since when has modesty been in Mamba’s nature?
Literally overnight Bryant reinvented himself becoming a do-it-all facilitator happy to spread the wealth, shoot much less and hit the boards harder than ever. The result has been nothing short of spectacular and the hopes of a floundering franchise have again been resurrected.
Quite simply what we are seeing is a player so skilled and mature that he can comfortably redefine everything his game has been forged in for nearly two decades in the matter of a week. Greatness like this has never been witnessed. And greatness like this perhaps will never be duplicated.
Of course the only real way to make this dramatic turnaround the stuff of legend is to get another banner hung come the start of next season. But maybe that is asking too much. Then again, maybe it’s exactly what we’re in store for as the greatest reinvention of a player’s game could lead to the greatest turnaround any team has ever undergone in a single season. That could be a reach but with the way Kobe is pushing the envelope it just might be within his grasp.