Bryant, Lakers focus on the future


VIDEO: Kobe talks about shutting down for the season

Making official what had been obvious for weeks, the Lakers announced Wednesday that Kobe Bryant will not play again this season, saying, in the words of trainer Gary Vitti, “we’ve simply run out of time for him to return” from the fractured left knee.

Out of time for 2013-14, Vitti meant. Really, though, this is about Bryant’s NBA time. He will begin next season at 36 years old, coming off two serious injuries and with the Lakers needing an immediate recovery to go with the remaining games from the career of an all-time great.

His presence alone means the Lakers will remain in win-now mode and try to hit free agency and the trade market hard in the offseason. It’s a plan Bryant threw his support behind, naturally, by telling reporters in Los Angeles after the injury update that he had “not one lick” of patience.

No two-year blueprints, in other words, putting management in a tough position to either make a deal in the summer that is not in the long-term interests of the team or buy a lot of ear plugs. Millions of angry fans are nothing compared to the volume of one fed-up Kobe.

Just take a gander at some of his quotes during his news conference today in L.A. …

Q: On who he is referring to when he wants to prove the doubters wrong for next season:
Bryant: Am I just supposed to name names? I guess I could name names of every TV anchor and sportscaster and competitor that’s said something that I view as being a challenge, but it’s a long list. What you have to do is take all that, accept it and understand where everybody’s going from and now you take it as a challenge. You go out there and do what you do.

Q: On what he envisions next year with the team having a lot of financial flexibility going into the offseason:
Bryant: I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team, what kind of culture do we want to have, what kind of system do we want to have, how do we want to play. And it starts there, and then from there, you can start building out your team accordingly.

Q: On the struggles of this year and if it’s something where he tries to distance himself from a season like this:
Bryant: I feel like killing everybody every time I go to the arena. I’m on edge all the time. I feel it, probably more than anybody in the organization does. I feel it more. It drives me absolutely crazy.

Q: On if he has any patience to wait another year after this offseason to improve the roster:
Bryant: No, nope, not one lick. Let’s just play next year and suck again. No, absolutely not, absolutely not. It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform. No excuses for it. You have to get things done. Same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court, the same expectations I have for them up there. You have to be able to figure out a way to do both.

For now, the participants are saying all the right things about Bryant’s expected recovery by fall, the fresh start after their little stroll through the Great Below this season. In a statement through the team, Bryant said, “Obviously this has been a frustrating and disappointing season, but I appreciate all the suppd from the Lakers and the fans, and look forward to being back and ready for the start of training camp.” Vitti’s full comment, in the same release, was, “With Kobe’s injury still not healed, the amount of time he’d need to rehab and be ready to play, and the amount of time remaining in the season, we’ve simply run out of time for him to return.  However, Kobe will have the entire offseason to heal, rehab and prepare, and we look forward to him being 100% for the start of next season.”

Which was the plan for this season, albeit not necessarily at the start. He did come back from the torn Achilles’ tendon and played six games at a level that was choppy but understandable under the circumstances – 29.5 minutes, 42.5 percent from the field, 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, 5.67 turnovers – only to be brought down by the fractured knee on Dec. 17.

The recovery was slower than he expected, planned updates with doctors were pushed back, and it took only until All-Star weekend for the end of the season to become clearly visible. His usual insistence of defying the expectations and playing again was replaced by telling NBA.com that “I haven’t been thinking about it” and “I keep my blinders on and just try to get healthy” when asked if he felt like he had played his last game of 2013-14. The change in tone was impossible not to notice.

The bottom-line news had been coming for a while, as the clock continued to run and Bryant couldn’t even get close to a return to practice for a test run. He met with team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo on Wednesday, the Lakers said, and it was determined once and for all that the fractured lateral tibial plateau in the left knee had not healed. Season over.

It’s the future that remains very much in doubt, not just for Bryant on the health front but also with the uncertain summer for the roster around him. Steve Nash may or may not be back, depending on his recovery from nerve damage in his back that, barring a shocking development, has ended his 2013-14 as well. Pau Gasol may or may not be back, with Gasol having told NBA.com in December that he may force the breakup, not the Lakers. Kobe’s health is just one aspect, before L.A. has run out of time for his return, period.


VIDEO: Shaquille O’Neal talks on GameTime about Kobe Bryant’s frustration with the Lakers

46 Comments

  1. raquan howard says:

    Kobe Bean Bryant has over 35000 points and you wanna talk about his injurys lol haha he’s always played through injurys he;s a Warrior .. last year the game against the Warriors he tore his achilles he came right back to hit the game tying freethrows .. Kobe Is the closest thing to Michael Jordan the world has ever seen Dont belive me ask Jordan.. Kevin Love is coming to Lakers next season most likely and Carmelo wants a championship he wants to play for a great team were there have been many greats and why not LA? His wife life’s in LA Lala anthony.. You see Lebron join Wade and Bosh in Mami went to the Nba finals the next year . and Last year before the injury Kobe was Kobe the best Sg in the world . Ask DWade or LBJ. A healthy Kobe averages 27.9 a Game and less not forget he’s 36 .

    R-Lo says:
    March 12, 2014 at 7:50 pm
    I can’t believe the Lakers signed Kobe for another 2 years for $48 million. I don’t think he will ever be the same after these last two injuries. Especially at 36. RIP Kobe and the Fakers.

    BOY TEAM YOU CALL FAKERS (LAKERS) GOT ENOUGH CHAMPIONSHIPS TO DONATE TO EVER TEAM IN THE LEAUGUE ALMOST YOU FOOLISH CHILD.. KOBE INDIVIAL GOT MORE WINGS THEN ANY STARTING 5 IN THE NBA.. IGNORANT PEOPLE NEED TO SHUTUP KOBE IS THE SECONDS GOAT OF ALL TIME TO MICHAEL JORDAN… KOBE HAS OVER 35000 POINTS I BET R-Lo cant even count up that high.

  2. J-Short37 says:

    I don’t have a problem with what Kobe is saying but Jim Buss has his own plan for the team what is that ” who knows”. We will just have to ride this and the next season out and go from there. Laker Nation aint goin nowhere….

    A Florida Laker Fan since 87 Baby…

  3. WhyLakerFans!Why says:

    Until Lakers Organisation figures out that D’Antoni and his RIDICULOUS system is the achilles heel to this, even with Kobe its a disaster….I mean seriously I this L.A if they had kept Mike Brown they could of been in a better situation then with this guy…….I just dont see how anyone would be pumped for next season with D’antoni & Staff as coach with guys who are 7-12th man on the bench with any other team…..!!!I guess we will have to wait and see but if all fails, well I guess Laker fans We told you so

  4. jake s. says:

    Kobe doesn’t want Mike Brown, Kobe doesn’t want Dwight Howard, Kobe doesn’t want Mike D’antoni. Kobe doesn’t want stability in the Lakers organization.

  5. Freddie Flores says:

    2014 2015 ROSTER:

    SF: Jabari Parker
    PF:Jordan Hill
    C ;Pau Gasol
    SG:kOBE Bryant
    PG;Jordan Farmar

  6. Mr Net Breaker says:

    Lakeland=Dreamland
    Kobe Will Get Injure Again Next Season
    He Can’t No Longer Play At A High Level
    He Will Try So Hard To Do So
    And That’s Will Cost Him Another Injury
    Don’t Believe Me
    Just Wait Till Next Season And You Will See
    I Have Many More To Say
    But I Rather Not To Say Anything Else

  7. James says:

    He was completely ineffective two years ago – was unable to get into form after recovery this year – after almost two years out of commission he can hope to be an average guard at best if he can ever come back. When he does come back he will likely experience minor injuries on and off while the Lakers fight for the 8 spot.

    The people speculating on Kevin Love, Melo, Westbrook, or any other player who could make a major impact on the team joining the Lakers are not being realistic – those players want to head to a good team and everyone of them is currently on a better team than the Lakers. None of them will want to come play for one of the worst teams in the league to carry the team while Kobe makes twice as much money as them.

    Can’t blame Kobe for taking the big contract, but the Lakers were not too smart to spend so frivolously on him.

    • Tim NBA Fan says:

      When was Kobe “ineffective two years ago”? Up until his achilles injury, he was playing at an MVP level.

      People speculate about stuff that may not happen. Your comments are also pure speculation. Until we see the Lakers play next season, it is impossible to know whether they will be good enough to attract a top free-agent or not in ’15. A Laker fan may be a little more enthusiastic about the possibility of a quick turn-around. A non-Laker fan/ non-Laker hater would care very little either way. Only a true Laker hater would be as sure about their demise as you seem to be.

  8. sid says:

    Coach
    Tom Thibodeau or The Zen Master

    Starters
    Camelo Antony
    Kevin Love
    Pau Gasol
    Kobe Bryant
    Kendall Marshall

    Bench
    Kent Bazemore / Xavier Henry
    Ryan Kelly / Wesley Johnson
    Robert Sacre / Chris Kaman
    Jody Meeks / Nick Young
    Jordan Farmer / Steve Nash

    • James says:

      They can’t afford those guys – Anthony and Love will expect to make at least as much as Kobe. The team still wouldn’t be good, and Anthony and Love won’t leave their current teams to join one of the worst teams in the league.

  9. marty says:

    The future not good as long as the aging star wants to be the main guy.Howard would be in LA if he was appreciated and they would at least have a building block.

    • laker says:

      howard is a baby who couldnt handle the pressure of LA…THATS WHY HE LEFT..NO HEART

      • marty says:

        Why would they attempt to resign him if he couldn’t handle the pressure or lacked heart?

      • I'm Right says:

        he left because 1) he coudlnt’ play with Kobe (not the first star to feel this way) 2)he couldnt play in D’Antoni’s ridiculous system

      • laker says:

        Marty they wanted him back….not saying that..he couldnt handle playing center for the Lakers…to much pressure..its like playing for the Yankees ..some can handle it some cant ..he cant plain and simple..u ever wonder why teams dont double team him? its cause they dont fear him..no offensive game at all…if he aint dunking he aint scoring

    • LakersWillWIn says:

      Good thing Dwight left. He could have been in the way of anything the Lakers wanted. Dwight is over-rated, unfortunately.

  10. NUMB says:

    LAKERS 2014-2015 ROSTER

    C- DEMARCUS COUSINS
    PF- KEVIN LOVE
    SF-GERALD GREEN
    SG-SHANNON BROWN
    PG-KYLE LOWRY

    BENCH

    KOBE BRYANT
    STEVE NASH
    KENT BAZEMORE
    XAVIER HENRY
    RYAN KELLY
    ROBERT SACRE
    LAMAR ODOM
    JORDAN FARMAR

    Showtime’s BACK!!!

    • Shaq says:

      might as well use this roster:

      Starters:
      Snoop Dogg Dogg
      Wu Tang Clang
      Too Short
      50 Cent
      Big Daddy Cang

      Bench
      LL Cool J
      Ice Cube
      Tupac Shakur
      Nortorious B.I.G.
      Lil Wayne

  11. Donald Trump says:

    Yawwwwn

  12. Erik Lafanman says:

    Kobe, ONE OF THE BEST EVER, He deserves respect because he has earned it. I am a die hard Laker fan for life but we have to be a fan of the game above all. I hope that management can pull their heads out of their donkie and fire coach Dumb Tony. Not only for the terrible season but for not believing in defense! when was the last team that won a championship that did not have good D? give Kobe and the fans the best chance at seeing this man win his last championship for the city that backs the team up even through a hard time such as this. GO LAKERS!

  13. screw tha Laker Haters..always talking…i believe if Antoni(No D cause he doesn’t coach that) was gone. this can at least be an 6th seed team.It be nice to see him go but i dont think he’s going anywhere.That mean no Melo this summer.Hope Lakers front office got some good tricks up their sleeves.

    210 Lakerfan
    #LAKERNATION

  14. BallFan919 says:

    Sitting him out the rest of the season is the right thing to do. I see Kobe coming back for his final 2 seasons with the Lakers averaging at least 20 pts, 5 ast and 5 reb a game, his game has evolved much like Michael Jordan in the final years of his career.Kobe probably is the best post player in the league even though he’s a guard, so if he can get just a little of his old lift back (because during his short stint on the court this season he got a fadeaway blocked) he’ll be just fine, that shot is pretty much unguardable.
    Also you can’t underestimate the savvy of somebody who will be entering his 18th season in the league and been through and seen it all, he’s proved that he can adjust his game to what his body can give him.
    And about that all-star level play? He’ll likely still get in as a starter, he was out this season and still got voted in over Chris Paul and James Harden and even if it wasn’t a popularity contest I’d say Kobe retains the “best 2 guard in the west” title until James Harden figures out what defense is.

  15. jg says:

    the nba is doing just fine without kobe……next.

  16. Gillsy says:

    But really doesn’t it come down to the fact Kobe is not conditioned to come back, like between now and training camp he can get his legs back, literally cause when he come back after his ankle one was visibly different to the other. But really doesn’t it really come down to the fact that the Lakers are in in a dog fight for a pick anywhere between about 4th to 8th, with a number of teams on near identical records. you don’t want to chance that pick.

  17. The Voice Of Reason says:

    Kobe will forever go down as an all time great but he needs to GO and get his 6th ring cause it ain’t happening in LA with Mike “screw defense” D’Antoni coaching and the Buss family making deals like they are playing NBA 2K14 or something.
    Until the front office pulls their head out of each others [insert body part] and realize that the great Dr Buss actually worked hard and made quality decisions for his championships, the Lakers are finished.

    Kobe could always ask for a buy out and join the Clippers – at least he can stay in LA and unlike the Lakers, the Clippers are on the way UP the food chain. HAHAHA! [jokes]
    I admit that I’m a Clipper fan and love seeing the Lakers burning, but seriously I feel for Kobe, he deserves better than to finish an amazing career like this.

  18. Rise Above KB24 says:

    First of all, us Lakers are sitting 15th in the west so I think we’ll be just fine with him not returning this season. Kobe h8ters don’t know basketball. Know one is saying you have to be a fan of his, but to state that his past his prime and cant play anymore is a joke. All you people see is whats happened to him these last 2 seasons. So easy for you people to jump on the h8ter train. Study the game, know the game, and you will appreciate that he is one of the GOAT. A very short time ago he was dominating everybody. Your so caught up in flashy negative headlines about him that you don’t even realize HIS NOT DONE YET, and his only mistake was getting injured, not loosing his game.

  19. John B. says:

    Kobe is done. He’ll never get his 6th ring to match Michael. And his greed over his new contract hurt the team. He will be remembered as one of the greats, but not worthy of carrying MJ’s or Bill Russell’s jock strap.

    • laker says:

      GREED CMON jOHN..SO UR TELLING ME IF THE COMPANY U WORK FOR OFFERS U MORE MONEY U WOULD DECLINE IT…SORRY ..DIDNT THINK SO..kOBE MAKES THEM SO MUCH MORE MONEY THAN THAT..

      • I'm Right says:

        its what you have to do to win… accomodate others! Wade did it, and I’m gusesing the 3 in miami will do it again….. Kobe is one of the top 10 paid athletes in the world… and the majority of that is from endorsements… if he wanted the laker organization to get powerful pieces he would have left some money on the table to let them do so… especially considering the new CBA
        but if its all about money, then yes he’s getting paid… but that gives LA much less financial flexibility
        LA has historically not been too worried about luxury tax so who knows they may just over spend again and bite in on profitability

  20. okc2014 says:

    Stephen: You say the cast of characters within the Laker squad are D-League call-ups and bargain bin castoffs? Can I add Harlem Globe Trotters, Spain and Ukraine? LOL.

  21. I'm just sayin' says:

    How many players are even out there that can play successfully in a Antoni system? How many rings are out there under this type of system? The problem is not the players, when Jerry died the Laker pride KB is used to went with him.

  22. Kevin says:

    The Lakers took lots of good hits this year, but I’m seeing improvements of each player among the games, this is good opportunity for the team as Bryant take time to recover. The team just needs a actual leader on the court to keep everyone intact on crucial times during the games, and Bryant is one to do so. The coach is putting together a team just like the old Sun’s, but looks like Gasol is just not fast enough to be in DA’s rotation. Something needs to be adjusted, and from what I’ve seen, I would suggest change of coach as long as Bryant and Gasol is on the team.

  23. cramerica66 says:

    As if there was ever any doubt. This whole season has been a ploy to draft their next super star. It is a little more than just convenient that he happened to spend this entire season out. The lakers will get their next guy and probably buy a big player with their free cash and be back to contenders in no time. I wish the lakers would actually suffer for long periods of time like other franchises do.

  24. Jennifer says:

    Are you kidding me? He is complaining about the direction of the team, and how they cant sign anyone else after he took 48 million dollars? Jerk! Take a reasonable salary so that the Lakers can afford to get a decent supporting cast. And fire the awful coach.

    • ncsportsman says:

      If your employer wanted to pay you $50 per hour would you say no and work for $10 per hour? Remember they offered him the money.

    • I'm Right says:

      yah but Jennifer here doesn’t have 3x as much coming from endorsements, or yes she would take less money from her employer so that she can get the best help to be the best at what she does!!

  25. Kobe is never done. He will get back in shape and try to make himself as productive in the court as possible. However people cannot defeat father time. Even the 2 time MVP teammate Steve Nash cannot do it. But what do we know about Black Mamba??? He’ll be back

  26. R-Lo says:

    I can’t believe the Lakers signed Kobe for another 2 years for $48 million. I don’t think he will ever be the same after these last two injuries. Especially at 36. RIP Kobe and the Fakers.

  27. Stephen says:

    If Kobe really “threw his support behind” the Lakers’ plan to “hit free agency and the trade market hard in the offseason,” he would’ve taken less money so the Lakers could get some halfway decent players, not a bunch of D-League call-ups and bargain bin castoffs.

  28. Ken says:

    Kobe is off to NEW YORK

  29. Another Heat Fan says:

    Smart move by the Lakers.
    I mean there is no reason for him to play this season.
    If he is back in shape, and actually CAN play well, better hide it and save that for next season so that he can come out blasting.
    If he is not back in shape, and is not at all-star level, then it’s also better to hide it or else they won’t be able to attract superstars to LA next year.

  30. qwerty says:

    People can hate on him all they want, he is still one of the greatest to ever play. Get well for next season and do your thing! He probably still has a few great games ahead of him for us to witness at the end of his career.