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Kobe Bryant Willing To Adjust Game
Posted By Jabari Davis On October 30, 2013 @ 12:34 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Unfamiliar times are abound around Los Angeles, as Kobe Bryant has yet to don his customary #24 Lakers jersey. Having recently elected to scale back his Achilles rehab while offering no updated timetable, the uncertainty surrounding Bryant has predictably caused significant reactions from both his detractors and his most ardent supporters alike.
“It’s always a concern,” Bryant said in his opening-night sideline interview with TNT’s Craig Sager. “It’s always going to be in the back of your mind. You gotta be able to let that go, like Dominique (Wilkins) did, and go out there and just play, and let it all hang out.”
Bryant seemed at ease with the decision to delay his return in an effort to ensure a full recovery. Not that he should be expected to panic, having endured what seems to be an innumerable amount of injuries throughout his career.
Although Bryant has always been able to come up with a move and counter-move for just about every scenario the game of basketball can throw at a player, there are a considerable amount of analysts and experts that seem to anticipate Bryant having a significant drop in productivity whenever he is able to return to the court.
“If I do need to adjust my game, and change certain aspects of it, I’m ready and willing to do that,” said Bryant. “If I don’t have to, I won’t.”
Quotes of that nature should at least be signs of encouragement for those eager to see his return. Of course, not everyone is quite as stoked as others. Even late-night talk show host David Letterman has chimed in on the subject.
“We’re all tired of the Kobe Bryant saga, aren’t we really?” pondered Letterman.
First thought? Wow.
No, not that it should come as a surprise to anyone that someone might hold that opinion about one of the league’s most polarizing players of his generation; but given the fact that Bryant is still fighting his way back from a devastating season-ending Achilles tear as we have now started the regular season without him, it simply came across as kicking a man when he was down.
Letterman’s view, which he recently shared while interviewing Charles Barkley on his late-night show, could be seen as somewhat understandable as Bryant will eventually enter the 18th season of a legendary career. Let’s face it, if you aren’t a Lakers fan, the endless stories of countless hours in the gym, unparalleled all-out obsession with winning, and certain elements of his professional past could have perhaps made you want to prematurely turn the page.
The reality is, we don’t know what to expect from Bryant until he (at least) returns to full contact play. Predictions of an absolute demise are as based upon personal conjecture as the guarantees of a triumphant return. What is certain, is that you can count on the same maniacal, unwavering approach from Bryant, as he feverishly attempts to silence his critics and doubters with every (multi) pump-fake pull-up jumper he can muster in 2013-14.
Unlike other players that attempt to deflect the significance of rankings or preseason predictions, Bryant’s honesty about his use of external motivators is as refreshing as it is surprising at times. Regardless of whether you consider yourself “Team Bryant” or Team “Anyone But Him,” Bryant has been a part of the NBA’s discussion for a significant portion of the past three decades. Letterman’s dispassionate tone at the mere mention of Bryant will undoubtedly be tossed as another log on the fire that continues to burn within the league’s 4th all-time leading scorer.
It also shouldn’t have come as a surprise to hear Bryant recently discuss his desire to end his career in a similar fashion to professional boxing’s longstanding ‘King of the Ring,’ Floyd Mayweather with Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins. In fact, when considering individuals within sports and entertainment that could possibly place their careers against Bryant, Mayweather and rapper Jay Z are the two individuals that immediately come to mind.
Not only have all three of these men been able to maintain a remarkable level of greatness over careers that have spanned almost identical lengths while reaching comparable heights, each (coincidentally) started their professional careers in 1996, as Jay Z’s critically acclaimed debut album (Reasonable Doubt) was actually released the day before Bryant was drafted by the (then) Charlotte Hornets and subsequently traded to the Lakers. Each of them have also faced similar criticisms; whether it be claims of stolen moves/lines, or vitriol over the mere manner by which each of them carries themselves within their respective fields.
Maintained greatness can have that affect on people, which is why figures like Bryant tend to cast such a giant shadow. Whether Bryant stuns all of us with a return over the next week or so, or becomes available sometime near Thanksgiving or even Christmas, Bryant’s steely resolve will once again be on full display for the eyes of the basketball-loving public.
Whether you love Bryant or hate him, even if the approach is altered, his mindset isn’t likely to change. That’s part of what makes him the player he’s been, and certainly part of what has permitted him to maintain a level of excellence that is sure to have people talking about his career for many years to come.
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