HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Ignoring Kobe Bryant for as long as we have here at the hideout is a crime against basketball that should not be excused.
With Bryant rehabbing a knee and not playing particularly well, he’s been a bit out of sight and out of mind throughout the preseason (there’s also that crew down in Miami that has kept us all busy).
That’s still no excuse for ignoring the reigning back-to-back NBA Finals MVP, who insists that he is not feeling the heat just because there is a new challenger for the title.
In fact, Bryant sounds as calculated as always in his approach (check the video above) and seems to be in his usual Mamba Mode, complete with Lakers coach Phil Jackson using his own techniques to keep his star on top of his game.
Bryant insists he doesn’t need an extra motivation, per my main man Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, who details exactly what the Lakers need from Bryant:
What he needs is to rediscover his shot and strength in the knee, something that will presumably happen a few weeks into the season. The Lakers begin the regular season Oct. 26 against Houston.
Bryant made only two of 10 attempts Wednesday against Sacramento and stuck around to shoot after Thursday’s practice with assistant coach Chuck Person.
“I don’t think it’s ever been frustrating. It’s just understanding that it’s a process. I’ve been through it before,” Bryant said.
Bryant was slow to come back from off-season surgery on the same knee in 2006. He sat out the first two regular-season games and scored fewer than 20 points in four of his first eight games.
Things turned out all right for him that season. He ended up making a historic run in March 2007, becoming the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1962 to accrue four consecutive games of at least 50 points.
For now, however, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson couldn’t remember a player of Bryant’s stature (think Michael Jordan, or, to a lesser degree, Scottie Pippen) struggling so badly with accuracy in exhibition play.
“I don’t think so,” Jackson said. “He’s playing without being quite ready. He’s trying to get some of it in game situations rather than having the ability to practice and do all the things that build up to that where he’s going to be in rhythm and shooting the ball right. We’re taking a little bit of a shortcut.”
No offense to Phil here, but we’re going to let history be our guide.
Bryant still in the prime of his career, despite all the hot air about him regressing and taking a step back (surely you remember that preposterous argument made by many last season, before he led the Lakers on their march to the title).
Bryant will be at his big game best this season, especially against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat!