Don’t look now, but over the past 2-ish weeks — excepting the OKC game that he sat out — Kobe Bryant has scored 25, 22, 22 and 31 points and is actually exhibiting a reasonable field goal percentage comparable to his career numbers.
What we know about the guy is that he is a narcissist and if he continued to have a season as abysmal as he HAD been having, he would have had no issue cruising off into retirement. Imagine, however, if he manages to squeak out 21 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds a game on the season while monstering out a couple of spectacular 40 or 50-point games along the way. Remembering that he has backed out of the last three seasons with major injuries and the rust has to be considerable for one of the league’s all-time greats. It stands to reason that it has taken this long into the season to really find it in himself.
This could go both ways though. It would make one HELL of a story for him to find his 2010-ish legs, then run through the season while filming his farewell tour for the movie he is making about himself only to decide to give it one more try. On the other side, we can look in the fact that he has very little realistic left to accomplish. He is on a very young roster with a coach who is overmatched at the moment for what he is up against. He would have to average 50 points a game over an 82-game season to catch Karl Malone on the scoring list and SIXTY SEVEN a game to catch Kareem. Time missed over the past three years and the rust of old age has put the kibosh on making that marque.
It is wholly possible that Kobe could find some semblance of his old self (not PRIME, but the pre-injury guy) and steal another year or two out of the league. Not at all realistic, I have found the guy to be pretty honest about things he chooses to discuss, up to and including being a bit of an asshole. He has invested too much (letter written to fans, filming a farewell film, soaking up the accolades and chants of his name in ROAD arenas, etc…) in making this his last dance. Again, as the narcissist might not want to go out on a season wherein the Lakers will assuredly win fewer than 25 games, and would only come back if they could at least make the playoffs and perhaps win a first round series. Not enough of a narcissist to do that from the bench of a contender, he needs to be the man where he is. That is a lot of what keeps him in LA right now, no one else on this roster is ready to be that (personally, I am still holding onto hope that Kevin Love comes around to it).
Who are we kidding? While vaguely plausible that he could come back for a year or two more, it still remains a matter of freeing up some cash to bring people in and become a contender ASAP. It would make for one hell of a surprise ending, but sometimes we have to take things the way they’re presented and appreciate what was.
Words by PHLIP
Follow PHLIP on Twitter