What will be different about this return?
“We’re like 100 games below .500, I can’t be satisfied with that at all. This is not what we (the Lakers) stand for, this is not what we play for… I don’t wanna say I’ll be back at the top of my game, but that what’s it gonna be.”
I want to believe him, I really do.
But by the time opening day 2014-15 rolls around, it will be his seventh NBA game in 18 months.
Beyond that, some things are out of his control, there is only so much a 36-year-old shooting guard can do in leading a not-so-talented team in a loaded Western Conference. From what we’ve heard, Mitch Kupchak and the rest of management plan to restock in the summer of 2015, when all the attractive free agents come into play (Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, etc.), but Kobe is in no mood for another season of misery, especially if he’s an active participant of it.
He apparently told Ric Bucher he’d like to see Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar and Wes Johnson back in Purple and Gold, but resigning those guys would handcuff the team’s financial flexibility for the following summer. Not to mention, with the nature of his $48.5 million contract extension, reloading in one summer won’t be a walk in the park.
“It’s different…but I’m pretty good about being real… and where you are is just what it is, you just deal with it.”
So, what’s Kobe coming back to? Will a second arduous road to recovery be worth it?
Besides a new young running mate in whoever they take in the draft, the rest of the roster is up in the air. You’re probably glazing your eyes at this because it’s the millionth time it’s been brought up, but the only Lakers guaranteed to return for next year are Bryant, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Kendall Marshall. That’s it.
At some point over these next seven months of rehab, Kobe may have to come to terms that next season may be very similar to this one, even if he gets all the guys he wants back. It’s a borderline playoff team that depends heavily on his and Nash’s health.
And at some point over these next seven months of rehab, Kobe may just have to look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that coming back as an equal player to what he was before the Achilles tear may be just as rewarding as capturing ring number six to equal Michael Jordan.
Kobe Bryant On Change THIS Summer, Jim and Jeanie Buss, Coaching Staff