Kobe Bryant began this season on a tear for the Lakers, logging heavy minutes and taking a ton of shots on what wound up being a nightly basis.
Most believed the effort on Bryant’s part was an attempt to prove the doubters wrong; after suffering two major injuries over the past two seasons, he wanted to show that he could return to playing at a high level, essentially as his former self.
Most also believed that Bryant was determined to pass Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list before his body betrayed him once more, which he did at the free throw line in his 24th game of the season.
Three games later, after shooting a combined 19-of-71 in three straight losses, Bryant was finally convinced he needed to rest.
Bryant sat for his team’s next three games, before coming back to play in the next four. He sat out the second night of a back-to-back in Portland earlier this week, returned to play in a loss to the Clippers, but then sat out again as the Lakers beat Orlando on Friday, which happened to be two days later.
Since Bryant’s availability is seemingly unpredictable at this point, might he consider shutting it down for the season?
Kobe is out again tonight. But I’m told there’s no thought of shutting down. He’s just trying to figure out how to get right. He’s not hurt
As Bryant plays out one of the final two years of his career, with the Lakers having zero chance to make the playoffs and with no more career milestones in sight, there’s isn’t a single good reason to play through the pain anymore, even if he’s physically able to do so.
But at the same time, Bryant loves the game, and loves to compete at the highest level his body will allow. Shutting it down doesn’t make sense for him the way it might for Carmelo Anthony in New York, who still has a lot of basketball yet to play, and is in the first year of a brand new contract with the Knicks that will pay him $123 million over the next five seasons.