If you want to get the most out of Kobe Bryant, put a big obstacle in front of him. Like trying to come back from a ruptured Achilles at age 34.
Kobe has been working out diligently on his recovery, in fact holding himself back and letting it heal has been the hard part, he has said.
Lakers co-owner Jim Buss was in Las Vegas to watch his team play in Summer League and was interviewed by NBA TV and said this about Kobe.
“Well, we’re in Vegas, and I would bet a lot of money that this guy comes back probably in preseason. He’s real sharp in taking care of himself and he’s not going to rush anything just to get back and prove a point. He’s going to come back when he’s right. He’s a machine. He’s inhuman. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season. I can’t believe how much he’s progressed so far.”
The normal recovery time would have had Kobe back somewhere in the middle of the season. But you knew Kobe would be ready sooner than that.
When he returns he will not be the same player — he will lose some athleticism, some explosiveness. Not even Kobe can deny father time.
But over the last five years Kobe’s game has evolved from using that explosiveness to get his shots to using his footwork, his moves, his crafty play to get the shots he wants. He’s moved more into the post at times. Give him the ball at the wing and he’ll make a couple of jab steps, create a little m room then drive to the elbow area where he can pull up for a jumper. He has become very good at getting to his spots on the floor.
Which is to say, Kobe is still going to be good when he comes back. Just not the same.
The Lakers have a preseason game in China, I’d be surprised if he’s back for that. But Game 1 of the regular season, that would not be a surprise.
Sometimes – as Kristaps Porzingis sees against Dwight Howard – it’s more flattering just to play James Harden-level defense.
This was not Marc Gasol‘s first attempt to head in the ball after a whistle, but this time, he converted.
Here was his January try:
As Rockets general manager Daryl Morey once noted, cherry-picking James Harden‘s worst defensive plays to create a video is unfair. Many players would look awful by that measure.
But Harden provides serious ammo for these worst-of videos.
This non-attempt to stop Lance Thomas is just brutal.
At least Houston buckled down to beat the Knicks, 116-111 in overtime. The Rockets have climbed to 26th in points allowed per possession.
So, Kobe Bryant‘s NBA career is officially going to come to an end after the 2015-16 season. That part he announced on Sunday.
What’s still up in the air is Bryant’s participation in one last Olympics. Bryant has been in consideration to make Team USA this summer at the games in Rio de Janeiro, and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo tells ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that he hasn’t ruled that out yet:
Kobe was asked about this at his post-game press conference Sunday and said it was not a goal, but if it was offered he’d consider it.
“I’d be honored if that was there, it would be fantastic to be around that group and spend kind of the last journey with them,” Bryant said. “That being said, it’s not something that I’m obsessing over.”
‘When Bryant made it known that he wanted to play in Rio, he made it clear to Colangelo and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski that he wanted to earn a spot, not be given one as a lifetime achievement award. Watching him so far this season, it’s almost impossible to imagine him making the roster on merit.
But nobody should begrudge him if he wanted to extend the farewell tour just a little bit longer.