Kobe Bryant changed the avatar on his Twitter account Friday to “1225,” and while we could speculate on whether or not that means he’s targeting a return date of Christmas Day against the Miami Heat from his torn Achilles injury, the reality is it was likely done as a personal motivational tactic.
ESPN ranked all of the players in the league from 1-500, an exercise in futility that is arbitrary at best and, like anything involving opinions, clouded by personal biases. But it does generate a buzz of fan discussion in the weeks leading up to the start of the season, and coming from the Worldwide Leader, it garners plenty of attention from the players themselves.
Bryant was ranked 25th, after finishing 12th in the voting last season. It’s a precipitous drop, considering what Bryant is capable of when healthy. But with his return date from injury an unknown, along with just how close to his old self Bryant will be once he does make it back, it’s at least somewhat understandable.
The Lakers as a team were picked by ESPN experts to finish 12th in the Western Conference out of 15 teams, likely due to the same uncertainty that surrounds Bryant’s return.
So, 12 for the prediction on the Lakers, 25 for the ESPN individual player ranking. That seems like more than a reasonable educated guess as to the meaning behind Bryant’s avatar change, along with some insight into part of his personal motivation to prove the doubters wrong during the upcoming season.
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.