Kobe Bryant has tried to be in his happy place this season. Major shakeups for the Lakers on the court with a new coach and system — plus Lamar Odom for a trade exception — have the Lakers struggling. And there have been major changes in his personal life. However, he was healthy and that was his focus.
He kept his head up and talked about how his team is still a contender. He said all the right things. Then came the fall and the torn ligaments in his wrist. He is just playing through it as he always does (with numbers similar to last season so far, a little more aggressive going to the rim and with fewer threes).
But he’s in pain. And frustrated at being 0-2. It’s hard to stay in your happy place through that.
As for the pain part, here is what Kobe told Mark Spears of Yahoo.
“It hurts more when I fall on it with the impact below the wrist,” he said. “When I fall and hit the ground, that’s when I feel it the most….
“It swells daily, it’s painful daily,” he said. “I try to stay on top of it as much as I can.”
A back-to-back-to-back to start the season doesn’t help that. Yet, so far it hasn’t really impacted his shooting numbers (his shooting percentage is .04 percent off last year), but those numbers have not been enough to get the Lakers a win as they look confused trying to adjust to a new system on both ends of the floor. Their defense has been lacking, particularly on the pick-and-roll.
But more than that, this team is not as deep or as talented as the one that got Kobe rings four and five. Pau Gasol is still there and Andrew Bynum will be after his suspension, but the point guard play and depth isn’t the same. Which leaves Kobe clearly frustrated, in part because he is on the outside, not helping shape the roster.
But he continues to take the high road, as he did in an interview with Peter Vecsey of the New York Post last week, but he added he learned about the Mike Brown hire on the Web.
“We almost have to be perfect this season,” Kobe Bryant said Wednesday night at dinner. “There’s little margin for error….
“Hopefully, management knows what it’s doing and will provide us with our missing pieces,” Bryant said. “Hey, I’m just a player. I have no input concerning anything that happens here. In fact, I learned we’d hired our coach from reading it online. I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation with Jimmy [Buss, managing owner]. Occasionally, I’ll cross paths with Mitch [Kupchak, general manager] and we’ll speak for a couple minutes about nothing really.
“I’ve never known what’s going on. That’s why I went public [in May 2007] and demanded a trade. When it became obvious to me that management wasn’t trying to compete for a championship, I felt my only recourse was to embarrass [owner Jerry Buss] into doing it.”
We may see that again someday. Maybe someday soon if the pain and losing keep mounting up the frustration.