Kobe Bryant finally seems to be getting the message. Indomitable as he might be, unconquerable as he’s long branded himself, he knows he can’t save the Los Angeles Lakers all by his lonesome.
And it’s not as if the Black Mamba hasn’t tried, almost to a fault in fact as the Lakers have stumbled to a 3-11 start on the heels of coming off the worst season in franchise history and a year that Bryant managed to take the court in just six games due to various lingering injuries.
But now, at the-not-so-tender age of 36 and playing at a rate of 36 minutes per night, scoring a league-leading 28 points per and firing off an average of 24 shots an outing, Bryant is wearily coming to his senses. And it’s the same rationalization many have pointedly held for a while now.
“The second half of games for me have been a struggle lately with my legs,” said Bryant, shooting just 38 percent from the field overall. “My shot’s just been really short even though my legs feel good. It’s a fine balance, trying to find the rhythm of strengthening your legs as the season goes on without wearing them out.”
The Lakers are hoping the solution— as if there really can be one where this year’s miserable makings of a team is concerned—might lie in Bryant practicing less and playing less early game minutes to preserve energy for extended stretch runs.
“It’s a work in progress,” said coach Byron Scott. “He’s played 19 years. He knows his body better than anybody, but we can see also watching the tape (from the Lakers Nov. 23, 101-94 loss to the Nuggets) that everything was a tad short, which tells me that the legs were a little fatigued.”
Bryant reportedly was so upset with himself after shooting 4-of-14 over the fourth quarter and overtime against Denver he went to team strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco desperately seeking remedies. He now says he’ll spend more and more time taking ice baths and concentrating on lower body weightlifting.
“You miss that length of time, being a year off… it’s going to catch up to you,” said Scott. “We’ve just got to rejuvenate and get back there.”
But the truth is, no matter what, no one can fully put Kobe Bryant back together again. The truth is, no matter what, the end of his brilliant run is near. Kobe Bryant is even coming to realize that.