Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says Kobe will not be the same player this season

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It’s one of the major story lines of this season: When will Kobe Bryant be back on the court for the Lakers? And once he is, how is a 35-year-old coming off an Achilles tendon rupture going to look?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says not to expect the same Kobe.

The NBA’s all time leading scorer was on CBS Sports Radio Wednesday and talked about Kobe’s injury, as transcribed by Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

“It’s a rebuilding year for them because Kobe has been hurting and he has a very devastating type of injury,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a recorded interview that aired Thursday on CBS Sports Radio’s morning show with Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson. “I don’t think he will be able to come back as quickly and completely as he would like. It’s gonna be tough on the Lakers this year….

“When Kobe does come back, it’s gonna be a different Kobe and that will definitely effect the outcome for the Lakers long-term,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “… It’s gonna be a test for him this year, absolutely.”

Nobody who has ever watched Kobe would question his resolve and commitment to getting back to being the best player he can be. And there is no doubt that in the past few years Kobe’s game had evolved away from relying on his fading explosiveness to more about technique, footwork and IQ to get to his spots on the floor and get his shots. That will help him here.

But if he gets to those spots just a little more slowly, if the elevation is just a little lower, things will be that much harder for him. Defense also will be a challenge.

Kareem is right, Kobe is not going to be quite the same. He’ll still be good, maybe very good, but it will be different. How far that can take the Lakers (with Steve Nash and Pau Gasol) is the question.