Kobe Bryant rests about as much as the T1000.
He played just a hair under 39 minutes a game last season. He has never played less than 36.1 minutes a game since 1998. And that’s just the regular season. (And you wonder why people talk about all the miles on that body, minutes that would matter more if he was not made out of a nanomorph mimetic poly-alloy just like the T1000).
Kobe’s conditioning and will to win drive those minutes, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson has watched him on a gimpy knee this preseason and said he wants to limit Kobe’s minutes when the games get serious next week. Here is Jackson’s quote from the Kamenetzky brothers at ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“He’s the best caretaker I’ve ever seen of his own personal physique. So I anticipate he’s got this measured as to how he wants to do it. I don’t anticipate he’s going to be playing heavy minute games to start the season. So we’ll have to find a pattern out there so he has the greatest influence in the amount of minutes he’s in.”
Kobe isn’t on some Yao Ming-like limit. It’s more about taking him out and giving him more rest while Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes fill in (and maybe Sasha now and again). It’s about getting him healthy rather than letting everything linger.
Which is a great plan until there’s a close game early in the fourth quarter next week and Kobe just checks himself in and pushes through the rest of the way. Kobe is not quietly going to just sit there on the bench if his team is struggling to score or is locked in a close on. That’s not how he is wired.
Jackson is a powerful coach. But good luck keeping Kobe’s minutes down.