kobe all-star NOLA

Kobe Bryant says rehab “progressing slowly”


It’s been clear for a while that Kobe Bryant was done for the season.

The Lakers would not say that publicly for the same reason the Bulls would not say Derrick Rose would not come back last playoffs when we all knew he wouldn’t. They don’t want to anger their star player, and if fans want to hope you don’t want to rip that away from them. But the time for Kobe to return to the Lakers and make a difference is well in the rear view mirror now.

In his latest interview, with kustoo.com, Kobe reiterates what he has said before — that he is frustrated riding the stationary bike but his knee fracture is not healing fast and that’s all he is left with. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News has the translation and an update.

“It’s progressing slowly. It really tests my patience,” Bryant said in a recent interview with Jacques Slade from Kustoo.com that mostly centered on his work with Nike. ”There’s only so much I can do. I find myself relegated to a bike. The first few weeks, it’s cool. I’m getting a good workout in. Third or fourth, I’m thinking I need to do something else. I want to play. I want to run. I want to do something different. But you got to do what you got to do.”

The Lakers plan to reevaluate Bryant on Friday, perhaps giving him medical clearance to advance his rehab beyond stationary bike exercises. But the Lakers anticipate Bryant would need a couple of weeks to progress fully toward full-court practices. Add the days up, and Bryant could return as early as the beginning of April, but that presumes he doesn’t experience any setbacks.

Let’s take the most optimistic scenario from that list: Kobe Bryant gets medical clearance on Friday then for two weeks works out and practices, ready to return March 28, that means he could take part in the Lakers last dozen games of the season.

What is the point?

Even if he could get back Kobe should take the rest of this season off. For the next two years as they rebuild the roster the Lakers are going to sell Kobe — they signed him to a two-year, $48 million extension because he is going to sell out the expensive courtside seats, fill the luxury boxes, get the season ticket holders to renew, keep the television ratings up and bring in the sponsors. Other rebuilding teams sell hope, the Lakers will sell Kobe.

Better to have him come back fully healthy next fall for that run, no reason to push him back for meaningless games this season (that the Lakers should want to lose anyway). If he even can, it sounds still like he is a ways to go.

But nothing will be official for a while.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
1 Comment

James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.