Should Kobe Sit?
Let’s be real. Lebron James is currently the best player in the NBA. It isn’t even close. Let’s also be real, for the first two months of this season, Kobe Bryant was the best player in the NBA. It wasn’t even close. From the +/-, to the clutch shots, to the superior defense, to the efficient scoring, Kobe was on pace to have his best season ever. Then he got hit with a broken finger. Amazingly, initially after he broke his finger on his shooting hand, he shot even better from the floor and hit a last second buzzer beater against Milwaukee. Yet, as the season progressed and the stress on his broken finger has increased, his fg% plummeted.
Kobe decided not to sit out to let his finger heal. He’s a warrior and he doesn’t take games off. I can appreciate that about Kobe and if it was just about the finger, I’d agree.
But since his finger injury, Kobe has encountered back spasms, been treated for fatigue and exhaustion, injured his foot and injured his ankle. Kobe missed practice yesterday after Lamar Odom reaggrevated Kobe’s ankle injury in Wednesday’s win against the Bobcats (as an aside, that the Lakers actually defeated the Bobcats is a minor miracle given the atrocious record the defending champs have against that team in recent seasons).
Kobe’s greatest strength is his dedication to his craft. That is why he has a legion of crazy loyal followers that defend or praise his every move. Kobe’s greatest strength sometimes becomes a weakness because he doesn’t recognize his limitations. Kobe, this and this to the contrary, you’re still human. Not only has Kobe’s shooting percentage taken a hit since his injury (49% to 46%), but his lateral movement has been poor and his turnovers are up. Kobe responded to these struggles by doing what Kobe does – keep shooting. The poor bout of play resulted in a normally wussy reserved Pau Gasol taking a shot (no pun intended) at Kobe suggesting that the team would be better off if Kobe shot less and threw the ball into the post more.
I have a different take. Kobe shouldn’t give Gasol the ball more or anyone else, he should just rest. Kobe centric ball produces championships and Kobe Bryant was the best player in the NBA at the beginning of the season. It wasn’t even close. Now he’s like a weary boxer in the 11th round after taking 10 rounds of body shots. As the injuries mount up, he’s eventually going to drop. Kobe needs to rest up and rejuvenate his body. He needs to trust that his teammates will hold down the fort for the 5-7 games he should miss and he needs to come back ready to play as well as he did at the beginning of the season.
We all know Kobe’s quest is to be the best ever. But basketball immortality does not depend on what happens in January and February; it depends on what happens in June. If Kobe wants to remove any doubt as to who the best Laker ever is, he’ll need to win another championship this June. Kobe has to be healthy to do it.