Every team has their superstar. The guy who gets buckets when it counts, forces turnovers in the clutch and makes plays us mere mortals can only dream of pulling off. Cleveland have LeBron. The Lakers have Kobe. Houston have Harden and the Thunder have Durant. But what about the others on the roster? The ones who go unnoticed by the casual observer but are game changers to those in the know. These are the underrated stars. Their stats may not be great but it’s the little things they do that endear them to coaches, players and fans alike. Here are my top underrated stars thus far in the 2014/15 season. (more…)
Tag: Los Angeles
He’s just 31 points away from third on the all time scoring list, but that’s not the real accomplishment for a guy like Kobe Bryant. Having modeled his game from a man who is widely regarded as the greatest to ever play, the passing of Michael Jordan holds a high level of significance for the Black Mamba, and he’s nearly there.
I sent out quite possibly the worst hint for this upcoming article and without fail it was easily dismantled and figured out.
Thanks to Nick How for trying to stir the pot and throw in names such as Ian Botham and Glen Davis.
About a year ago for a school assignment I wrote an article about how Peyton Manning somehow with age had gone to a whole new level.
Whilst doing the research for this piece it was unfathomable how good this guy got every passing year (pardon the NFL pun there).
Yes it makes sense for athletes to get better, but normally once they have passed their ‘peak’ the numbers are supposed to continue to climb.
With all of that being said, I can’t help but feel that Kobe Bryant may be in for a 2013/14 Peyton Manning-esque season.
Kobe ‘Black Mamba’ Bryant is a very rare creature and similar to the beef he is a slice unlike anything else you may have spotted. He standouts in a game of remarkable characters
The stories are remarkably similar, Manning suffered from neck injuries which forced him onto the sidelines for extended periods of time. Bryant since rupturing his Achilles has faced a long arduous road back.
When they were out of the game, talks began about their place in the history of it all but they knew all along that history had not yet been written. They merely laughed at the speculation that they were done, all the while knowing another chapter was waiting to be written.
Now what Manning did in 2013/14 was supernormal, I don’t want to jump the gun and say Bryant will come back and destroy the competition (mostly because I admire the hell out of him and just want him back on the court).
But the drive that this guys lives his everyday life with is enough to make you believe that when he finally takes the court, his game may have evolved, he will still be steps above the rest.
And to be fair, Manning had unequivocally the best tools surrounding him to help get the job done.
Here is where the main issue lies though with Bryant, two types surround him:
- Brand new unpackaged tools that have yet to taste real action
- Old rusted and almost broken down tools.
The Lakers cast and crew are a very oddball bunch and you get the feeling not only are we the fans hoping that Bryant returns but his teammates are wishing for him to come back as the Bryant of old.
Having written some time ago now about how the game is becoming more small ball orientated, this could play in the hands of Bryant. Although he may not be too keen on the frenetic pace that some teams play at, he will absolutely lick his lips if he see’s another point guard trying to line up and guard him.
Being a Celtic fan it’s so easy for me to look at the Lakers roster and pokes holes in it (yes there are a few) but I’ve tried my best to remove these green shades for this article.
No player on the roster benefits more from a healthy Bryant than new kid on the block Julius Randle, the guidance that he will give to him will help his career immensely. If he even picks up one fifth of Bryant’s work ethic then the NBA world needs to be put on notice. And it seems the Mamba is excited for his newest addition.
Bryant is a relentless workhorse who won’t let some silly injury keep him from doing what he does better than most people can only dream of.
I for one cannot wait to see the Black Mamba back out on the floor in the NBA and if he can have a similar run to that of Manning then we are all in for a spectacular treat.
As long as the cursed injury bug doesn’t come back to bite him, the game is in a lot better shape than what it is with Bryant sitting eloquently on the sidelines.
I often at times get weird looks from people when I admit my love for Bryant seeing as though I’m a diehard Celtic. But the thing is, no matter whom you are, champions deserve respect and the game is better when Bryant is playing.
It’s funny too look back at the article I wrote about Manning and realize that the ending could easily be about Bryant.
Seriously, change the wording slightly and that could easily be about Bryant.
I’ve heard a lot of athletes lately question the decision of retirement and whether or not it’s best to bow out with a little left in the tank or push it and leave when you have nothing left at all.
All I can say for certain is that when the time comes, we are going to need an army to drag Kobe Bryant away from the game; he has undoubtedly become one of the all time greats at.
It’s been a while since we’ve done Rookie Watch here at NBA Nation Australia.
Before the 2012/13 season we focused on Jared Sullinger, Bradley Beal and Thomas Robinson throughout their rookie NBA seasons, and the features were always hugely popular.
I chose young shooting guard Bradley Beal, as I believed firmly he would evolve into someone with the ilk of a truly great NBA player, who would be as fun to watch as he would be exciting. Thankfully, I’ve been proven right with Beal capping off a fantastic season for the Washington Wizards in the 2014 Playoffs. He’s becoming more confident in his role every day, and going forward will be an integral part of the Wizard’s plan.
This year, with the NBA draft being so deep, we’ve decided to jump back on the rookie watch bandwagon, and cover a couple of the guys who perhaps aren’t getting quite the amount of hype or media attention they deserve. You have your Wiggins’s and your Parker’s, but we’ll be taking time out to check in on a couple of guys who are sure to be big players not only in the rookie of the year stakes, but also for their respective teams throughout the NBA season.
So, I’m choosing someone a little closer to my heart in ex-Kentucky Wildcat and 2014 NCAA runner up, Julius Randle, who was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 7th overall pick in the Draft.
These will be ongoing pieces throughout the year, so please feel free to forward us anything interesting you find relating to our respective players and we’ll include it in our reports. Be it a tweet, video, Instagram or an article… if you think it’s relevant, send it through!
Standing a formidable 6 foot 9 inches, Julius Randle was one of the more polarizing figures in the 2014 draft. A Kentucky freshman, he was one of the Wildcats’ best performers throughout the 2013/14 NCAA season, helping his team reach the Championship game in March and while Kentucky lost to the University of Connecticut in a close contest, Randle was undoubtedly one of the highlights. Averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per contest, he shot 50% across 40 games for the Cats and lead the Nation in double-doubles with 24 on the year. Randle also played alongside Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker in the 2013 McDonald’s All American game as well as the Jordan Brand Classic that year, one of six Wildcats competing in the event.
The Lakers had been enamored with Randle throughout much of their 2013/14 campaign, and with their off-season focus turning towards the draft, he became their number one target. While Lakers management believed Randle would be off the board by the 7th pick, the Lakers were overjoyed when their rival Celtics took Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart at six, leaving the door wide open for them to claim their man.
Called the draft’s “most NBA ready player” by the experts, the 250lb power forward will be heavily featured in Lakers coach Byron Scott’s rotation, especially now that their two time champ and star big man Pau Gasol has made the move to Chicago. Providing the team with stellar defensive efficiency, and the ability to muscle his way through traffic in the paint will mean big things for a Lakers team without an enforcer type player to throw his weight around down low. Randle can move with the ball, get his own shot, and out-muscle his competition on the glass – A huge advantage for the Lakers who were a lowly 25th in rebounding percentage last season.
New team mate and fellow workhorse Kobe Bryant, who has made a career out of demanding the best out of his fellow players, was pleased with the drafting of Randle, given his love for hard work.
“I demand a lot from my teammates as well. Holding each other accountable, putting extra work in was what I had to do at Kentucky. It was what I demanded of my teammates and that’s what we did and that’s why we were successful.” Randle said on draft night. “He [Kobe] may get tired of me because I’m going to be bugging him, trying to learn stuff from him. I’m going to learn a lot from him.”
We believe you, rook.
Summer League 2014
Randle’s first experience as a member of the Lakers came during July’s NBA Summer League tournament in Las Vegas, NV where alongside fellow draftee Jordan Clarkson and a host of other Laker hopefuls, he impressed officials and sent a wave of excitement around Laker Nation. Whilst the Lakers finished the tournament with a 2-3 record, the two rookies were at the forefront of the team for the duration, impressing both fans and critics alike with a wide range of skills.
Missing the first game due to a contract mishap, Randle averaged 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 28 minutes across four starts, all the while shooting a respectable 44.8%. Both he and Clarkson are expected to arrive at Lakers HQ in El Segundo, CA this month ahead of training camp in early October.
Check out some of Randle’s highlights from the SL below:
Social Media Highlights
As is the case with most high profile sports stars these days, social media plays a huge part in their day to day lives, as it does ours, so part of our rookie updates will include the best of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook throughout the season. in case you’re not already following Julius Randle, you can do so via the links below. For now, here are a few highlights so far:
Name: Julius Randle
DOB: 29/11/1994 (Age 19)
Position: Power Forward
Pick: Selected with the 7th overall pick by the LA Lakers in the 2014 Draft
College: University of Kentucky Wildcats
So there you have it – Julius Randle, the highest Laker draft pick since James Worthy in 1982. The kid has some big shoes to fill but we can’t wait to see how his game evolves during his time with the Lakers. Thanks for reading, and make sure you keep checking back for regular updates. Again, if you want to submit something to be a part of the next update, send it to us and we’ll include it!
It wasn’t long ago. June 2010, and Los Angeles was in a state of euphoria. The Lakers had just won the NBA Championship on their home floor, in game 7 against a tough Boston Celtics squad, and had ambitions of their second three-peat under the guidance of Phil Jackson. There was hysteria at the Staples Center as Kobe Bryant celebrated his 5th title, and the Lakers were once again sitting atop the NBA pile, victorious for the 16th time in their history.
No one could have predicted what would unfold for this franchise, and its superstar over the next four years. It’s a story that will be written in the annals of basketball history, and studied throughout the years as a piece of Lakers folklore that is just as culturally important, although not as successful, as the Showtime Lakers of the 1980’s or the Shaq and Kobe era during the early 2000’s. As any Lakers fan will tell you, the unwavering love for the ball club is second to none, but this is a story that has tested, and will continue to test even the most hardened fans.
A second round exit to the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks in 2011 would set in motion a series of events for the Los Angeles Lakers that would render them unable to compete for a title for years, and put the franchise in a state of flux from which they are yet to pull themselves. The lockout, the nixed Chris Paul deal, the Dwight Howard saga, numerous coaching debacles and injury have all been a part of a period in Lakers history which many will be happy to see the end of. Even if it takes years.
Perhaps the most intriguing, and equally tragic element in the Lakers downfall however, is the final phase of their superstar and leader, Kobe Bryant’s career.
An 18-year veteran, Bryant has endured both good times and bad in his years with the Lakers, but none so much as the current challenges he faces in the twilight of his much decorated time at the top. Five Championships, two finals MVP’s and a league MVP, two scoring titles, sixteen All Star selections, 4th highest scorer in NBA history (soon to be third) and countless other accolades have cemented Bryant as one of the top 10 players of all time, but now, in his (presumably) final two years, perhaps his greatest challenge awaits.
His horrific Achilles injury in 2013 had the NBA world questioning whether he’d ever be the player he was again, given the history of the injury he sustained that April night at Staples Center seldom yields positive results. He returned for 6 games in December (averaging a respectable 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game) before a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau (knee) forced the Lakers to sit Bryant for the remainder of a season already lost, and hope their star would be ready come October 2014.
And ready he is. Working himself back into game-ready shape, and by all accounts, looking good. Kobe Bryant will be fit, healthy and ready to go come opening night.
The off season hasn’t panned out quite as the Lakers had hoped. After locking up Kobe for two more years with a much criticized $48 million contract, they aimed at big time free agents Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, and missed out on both. Instead the results this summer have been, while solid, relatively underwhelming. Additions have included Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis, and 7th overall pick Julius Randle, while also re-signing the likes of Nick Young, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Hill. A roster that, while maybe not title-winning in stature, will provide Bryant with some reasonable company until next summer when the team will have numerous free agency targets.
A veritable gold-mine for those who subscribe to the notion that other stars are against playing with Kobe, the Lakers inability to lock down their targets in free agency has become more about the veteran and his stubborn ways than it has about the team, and what playing in Los Angeles can do for a player, even beyond basketball. In that, it is important to remember that the Lakers, while a desirable destination no matter which way you view things, have never used free agency as a means of re-tooling. Throughout the past 18 years, there are few occasions whereby the team has acquired talent via free agency, preferring trades as a means of improvement.
But with 2 picks in 2015, and a top 5 protected lottery opportunity, being awful may not be so bad for the Lakers next season – The issue is, however, Kobe. To assume a guy like Bryant will be happy with losing in his final years to better the team going forward, is naive. Call him selfish, but at this point, he’s earned the right. You can bet the house that with everything he’s faced this past 15 months, there is a fire burning under Kobe Bryant, and despite the burden on his shoulders, he’ll be there on opening night, ready to lead his team out of mediocrity and back into the spotlight. The questions that need to be answered will be in due time, and whether he proves you wrong or right, there must be a level of respect for a man who has given his whole self to the game of basketball.
The debate continues to rage surrounding Kobe, and if he’ll still be able to contribute to the Lakers going forward, but while his Championship window is as good as closed, there is still plenty left in the tank. The fact is, that while many continue to doubt Kobe’s ability, he continues to set the bar in terms of how his competition readies itself – His tenacious, obsessive commitment to self-improvement and unrelenting competitiveness are testament enough to the fact that Kobe Bryant, no matter what, will always make a difference.
He’s got his doubters, and he has his critics, but the interesting thing about Bryant is his willingness to embrace it and use it as a means to compete. Fuel for the fire burning inside him. Yes, he is in his twilight years and the Lakers simply cannot rely on him alone to lead them back to title contention, but surely it’s more admirable for a man who has been the cornerstone of the franchise for near on 20 years to stand up and fight than it is to admit defeat and retreat into the shadows. As much as he would disagree, Kobe’s greatest challenge now is not winning a sixth title, or another MVP award, but ensuring his legacy is solidified, his name immortalized and shrouded in purple and gold with both the lovers and the haters firmly intact. They’ve all made him who he is today, and I’m sure he’d credit each and every one of you equally.
But be that as it may, there is still a task at hand, and in Bryant’s mind, it’s still fair game. Will the Lakers be atop the pile in these, an all time great’s final years at the helm? It’s unlikely, but you’d be a fool to think Kobe won’t die trying.
[Update 3.20pm 07/07/2014] Having met with all teams interested in signing him, Melo has spent the weekend largely in hiding mulling over the decision about where he’ll play next season. Yesterday the Lakers emerged as the Knicks’ top threat to sign Anthony, with reports emerging that the team had managed to have a significant impact, and leave him strongly considering their 4 year, $97 million offer. There have been multiple rumors surrounding Anthony, and how he’s spent his weekend in Los Angeles with the likes of Kobe Bryant, but none have been confirmed and most have simply been proven untrue.
Additionally, no team has been informed whether they are out of the Melo race or not at this stage, however Marc Spears at Yahoo! Sports believes there will be a decision within the next few days.
Carmelo Anthony has today wrapped up his free agency tour in Los Angeles, following lengthy meetings with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavs, Lakers and Knicks throughout the past few days.
One of the NBA’s highest profile stars, Anthony has been entertaining potential suitors throughout the Eastern and Western Conferences, hoping to find the right landing spot for he and wife LaLa Vasquez to call home for the foreseeable future.
Kicking things off in Chicago first thing Tuesday morning, Melo met with Bulls management who took him on a fully guided tour of the team’s training facility and home arena, the United Center. The Bulls’ pitch also included a full workout of point guard Derrick Rose, in the hope it would encourage Anthony to feel comfortable with his fitness level. The Bulls pulled out all the stops, draping the walls of the United Center with images of Anthony wearing his number 7 jersey, and took him out to an exclusive dinner.
Anthony’s meeting with the Houston Rockets was reportedly similar, with team Moray going the distance to give themselves the best possible chance at landing him. Jeremy Lin’s #7 jersey was Photoshopped onto an image of Melo this time round, which angered the team’s current guard, evidently coming to the realization the possibly incoming Anthony likely means the end of his tenure in Houston.
Meetings with the Mavericks and Lakers have not been as lengthy, or as glamorous, with both teams reportedly going for a much more minimalistic approach. Not much is known about Melo’s meeting with the Mavs, but it’s safe to assume Mark Cuban did everything in his power to persuade Anthony the Big D is the place where he’ll be most likely to win.
The Lakers were next up this morning, with GM Mitch Kupchak, team President Jeanie Buss and VP of Basketball Ops Jim Buss running the show alongside Laker legend James Worthy, and executives from Time Warner Cable Sportsnet also in attendance. Kobe Bryant, who was expected to be in the meeting, was not present, although he is said to be meeting with Anthony later this afternoon. The meeting lasted two and a half hours, with the Lakers said to be “pleased” with the outcome. Anthony left the Lakers’ El Segundo practice facility smiling, stopping for photos and autographs with fans before giving a thumbs up, and heading off to his meeting with Phil Jackson and the Knicks.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA has reported that the Lakers’ offer to Anthony stands at 4 years, $97 Million. The maximum available to them.
Chris Broussard, also of ESPN, has said that the Knicks have reiterated to Melo that they will give him the maximum 5 years, $129 Million should he choose to remain in New York next season. Their meeting with Anthony this afternoon reportedly ended with the team confirming that they would not ask their superstar to take less than the amount initially projected to be available to him.
All teams have been informed not to expect a decision from Carmelo Anthony until after the weekend, giving him time to consider his choices, and listen to any additional offers that may arise.
Of course, there is another free agent out there, who’s movements will likely impact Melo’s decision greatly, and the rest of the league for years to come.
The story continues.
In the wake of one of the most bitter racism rows to envelop the NBA in recent memory, Commissioner Adam Silver will tomorrow hold a press conference at Los Angeles City Hall to advise on what the next phase of the investigation, and the impending punishment of disgraced Clippers owner, Donald Sterling.
Following days of world-wide conjecture as a result of Sterling’s alleged comments to girlfriend V.Stiviano, the league has scheduled tomorrow as the day they will comment further on this very delicate issue, and will hopefully be a big step towards a resolution.
The Internet has been rife with rumors surrounding the subject, with many reporting that Lakers legend Magic Johnson is interested in purchasing the team (a theory that has since been denied by Johnson himself). Additionally, it has been said that others have called for Clippers players to be awarded the right to explore free agency come summer. Of course, this is all purely speculation at this point, and until the league makes clear their intentions of what to do with Donald Sterling, no one can be sure of the next phase.
The outcry from players, officials, media and the fans has been immense, so quick action by the league is an absolute must in minimizing the risk of more unwanted media attention. Commissioner Silver, NBPA associate Kevin Johnson, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and several NBA players will be present at tomorrow’s presser, which will be held approximately 4am AEST.
We’ll keep you updated
Widely regarded as the greatest coach in NBA history, with 11 titles to his name with MJ’s Bulls in the 90’s and Kobe’s Lakers in the 00’s, Phil Jackson’s NBA status is nothing short of legendary. Throughout his tenure as coach of two of the greatest dynasties in league history, Jackson remained an ever constant subject through both glory and despair, with his teams enjoying shining victories and humiliating defeats. His ever watchful, compassionate presence was to players as a father is to a son. Caring, nurturing and understanding whilst always ensuring lessons were being learned every day. Jackson’s success, as he claims, doesn’t stem simply from talent, but from the ability to connect with the people around him on a level unseen to the outside world. This why his nickname, The Zen Master, is synonymous with who he really is. A believer in accepting and understanding your surrounds, and not just focusing on oneself.
This is Phil’s pursuit of success and happiness, and one he’s been able to pass down to several of the NBA’s greatest ever players throughout the years.
Phil’s journey since leaving the Lakers in 2011 has been a rocky one. Dealing with his own illness, while being by his fiance Jeanie Buss’ side throughout her dear father, Dr Jerry Buss’ sickness and eventual death, and a potential new contract with the Lakers which for reasons largely unknown fell apart at the last minute. After retiring from NBA coaching, it’s hard to imagine Phil would’ve been subjected to the drama he’s seen since being swept by the eventual Champion Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Playoffs. Yet here he is. Not only a celebrity in his own right, but still a very much sought after asset for every team in the NBA. A part of Phil must relish the spotlight, and one team has created a new opportunity for him to be a part of it. The team with which he began his NBA journey. The New York Knicks.
It has been written to death for a week now, by a thousand NBA writers, that the Knicks have extended a big offer to Phil Jackson which they are hoping will help propel them into the next era of New York basketball, and provide them with a new lease on life. It’s no secret that the biggest market in the NBA has been one of the great disappointments in the league for many years, with millions of fans being let down year after year because of poor decisions and bad financial management. Now more than ever, with a new team across the river in Brooklyn, it is important for the Knicks to start becoming a regular threat in the playoffs. No one is scared of the Knickerbockers, and they haven’t been for a long time. Can Phil Jackson change that fact? It’s a long shot, but one most Knick fans would agree is a chance they are willing to take. With several bad contracts on the books, no draft picks and a disgruntled superstar’s free agency looming, things are looking grim for the immediate future of this franchise.
What Jackson will do is encourage stars to sign with the Knicks in the future. It’s a well documented fact that he’s a fan of superstars, as they are him, and as it stands, there is little the Knicks have to garner the attention of players that they want to sign. The Carmelo Anthony factor is a big one for the Knicks, and now that the trade deadline has passed, they are banking on his re-signing come free agency. Should Jackson take the job, it will go a long way in helping ensure his signature stays in Manhattan. Be it the right move or not it is what the Knicks, and their fans, desperately want.
Jackson seemingly is ready to make his move and re-enter the NBA stratosphere. After the failed attempt to get back to coaching during last season’s tumultuous events in Los Angeles, it was expected he would resign to the fact he would never coach in the NBA again, even putting a fork in it himself at one stage. The decision by the Lakers to hire former Suns/Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni angered many involved with the Lakers including fans, players and even a Buss herself. Jeanie has since explained her distaste at her brother Jim’s decision to hire D’Antoni over Phil, but speculation also continues to circle that it was indeed her late father Jerry who decided against re-hiring Jackson. It’s neither here nor there, and the truth will probably never be known. All we do know, is that Phil Jackson was ready to coach the Los Angeles Lakers last season, and was snubbed. One could argue that snub not only upset Phil (he would argue it didn’t), but also motivated him even more.
Since the Knicks first extended an offer, the stories have been running rampant about whether Phil will indeed accept the job, or fall by the wayside once again. It has been said that Jackson wants full control of basketball decisions. It’s also been written that he wants to coach too. All this along with a huge asking price. Speculation of course, but similar terms were said to be in play during negotiations with the Lakers a little over a year ago. Whatever the price, you can be sure the Knicks would be happy to entertain him until he gives them an answer. Would Phil be successful in a front office role? It’s hard to say, but he was influential in the hiring of the now fired Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks last off season, after he extended his hand to the Pistons in the decision making process. Hardly a lynchpin by which to judge his future successes or failures, but an interesting point nonetheless.
Phil’s interest in the NBA since retiring is indicative of his everlasting love of the game, and an example of how hard it can be to let go. Wise move or not, Phil Jackson wants back in the NBA, and the Knicks are providing him with that opportunity. Whether he takes it or not, is a whole other story. Can his attitude towards basketball and life in general be an asset to the struggling Knicks, or will it make no difference at all? These questions are worth pondering, and you can be sure Jackson will be doing just that, but the simple fact he is even considering it tells us all we need to know. The Zen Master is ready to make his return. Which team is lucky enough to accommodate it, remains to be seen.
As mentioned earlier, Phil Jackson’s view on life and all it holds is incredibly important to him, and in turn the decision making process. You can be sure that his eventual reconciliation will not only revolve around himself, but also his family, his friends, the players he’ll work with, colleagues and probably even the weather. Being in touch with who he is, and surrounding himself with who and what he needs to be successful is probably the most difficult aspect of any choice he eventually makes.
We’ll keep you updated with any developments.
It’s been a long six months for Kobe Bryant, who’s ruptured Achilles in April saw him exit the Lakers troublesome season early and be forced to undergo a career altering recovery process. We’ve had glimpses of Kobe’s progression via his Instagram and Twitter feed, but nothing conclusive as to a potential return date has been alluded to. It has been a case of overcoming not only a huge physical hurdle at age 35, but also a battle of mind over matter for the superstar guard. Kobe himself has stated that his recovery process is coming along faster than expected, and just last week took a trip to Germany to undergo Orthokine treatment on his right knee.
Kobe is a famously committed individual, and his injury has been a great test of character, but will it alter his ability to play with the explosiveness he is renowned for? We can’t be sure, but we do know that there is no way Bryant won’t be doing everything in his power to give himself the best shot possible.
Following Lakers practice in El Segundo this morning, reporters gathered around Bryant to get the scoop on how his injury is progressing, and if we’ll see the Mamba return to the basketball court on opening night for the Lakers. He spoke at length about how the most important issue he’s facing is getting the right conditioning and training before he makes his return, reducing the risk, and improving his chances at regaining form.
[there’s a] process I’ve always been on – three strong weeks of pushing the stamina. I have the green light now to be able to do that, but it’s a matter of having the flexibility and strength to run at high speeds out here on the court or track or whatever.
If Kobe was to come back early and work himself back into form, the risk of re-injuring himself is heightened, and his chances at a full recovery are severely diminished. Three weeks of intense conditioning is ahead of him, which takes him through to the start of November should he start this week. He went on to explain that getting back in shape is a huge priority, and that 6 months of sitting around will take time to work off.
It’s the explosiveness, the explosiveness, and the muscle endurance, which takes a little time and I have to get my fat ass in shape, too. It’s been six months of just eating whatever the hell I wanted to eat, not running and stuff like that has caught up to me a little bit. So I have to get in shape.
The answer was simple when asked if he had suffered any setbacks.
No. No setbacks, no soreness, everything felt good.
If there is one player that you can be sure will be as committed to healing and returning the same beast he always was, it’s Kobe Bryant. Plenty of players have suffered the same injury, and many haven’t come back to be the same player they were. Asked if that weighed on his mind at all, Kobe responded positively.
You obviously look at the situations that were successful and try to draw from that. You try to ignore the ones that weren’t as successful just to stay positive. But you try to draw a little bit from what they’ve been able to do and also keep in mind it was done years ago before all the medical advances we’ve made since.
While not wrong, Kobe is in a situation which is unique to the individual. One can only speculate that medical advancements will help his recovery, or if the weight of such a crippling injury will be too much. I for one am sticking with the notion that Kobe’s mentality and complete and utter stubbornness will see him return the exact same player he was before his Achilles gave out that fateful April night in Los Angeles. That said, even Kobe succumbs to thoughts of self doubt from time to time. The difference is, he knows how to use it as motivation.
I don’t know what triggers those moments. It’s just when it’s an ongoing process, it just seems like it’s going to go on forever and you have those moments where you doubt yourself a little bit, but I try not to let it sit with me. I try to use it as motivation to propel me forward.
And so, the burning question remains. When will we see Kobe back on the court, representing his beloved Lakers again? Is there a chance he’ll be ready come October 29th against the Clippers? Even Bryant doesn’t know the answer yet, but one thing is for sure. The day he does, you’ll know he’s ready.
I didn’t say anything. I just keep it all open right now. I don’t’ know why you guys are so hell bent on timelines. When I’m ready, I’m ready.
Bryant is expected to join the team in Las Vegas today as the Lakers take on the Sacramento Kings in their fourth preseason game at the MGM Grand Casino tomorrow.
After yesterday’s embarrassing loss to the San Antonio Spurs, and his untimely ejection from the game early in the third quarter, and what appeared to be a confrontation with GM Mitch Kupchak (later dismissed) Lakers center Dwight Howard finally opened up to the world via Twitter in an attempt to rectify what he felt to be one of the most disappointing seasons of his career. Howard, widely regarded as the league’s best center, was ejected from yesterday’s game following his second technical foul for questioning the officials non-call after what he believed to be a hard foul. In the midst of all this, the Lakers were down by 20 points and Dwight being ejected at this point essentially spelled a loss before the game was even over, and the end of the 2012/13 Lakers season.
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