Apr 12, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) is helped up by teammates against the Golden State Warriors during the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers: Without Kobe are Playoffs a Reality?

If Kobe Bryant is an unfamiliar name, feel free to sift through NBA.com stats, including their archive of box scores. Then, type his name into You Tube and watch some of the highlights.

Here’s a primer:

Kobe has five championships, one NBA MVP, two Finals MVPs, two scoring titles, and he even dropped 81 of his 31,617 total points in a game once.

Here are some slo-mo highlights:

This is what he was doing before he hit two free throws and limped off of the court:

He addressed the media on crutches and fielded all of the toughest questions any athlete would ever face.

So, what now? With two games left in the season, the Lakers cling to the 8th spot in the playoffs by one game. Pau and Dwight both played dominant in the paint against the Warriors. Pau registered a triple-double. Dwight got into a great rhythm early from the foul line, despite missing a few down the stretch. Nash still recovers from multiple injuries, having sat out the last six game. Metta World Peace Usain Bolted back from a knee cleaning to provide tough defense and leadership. Blake continued to be Steve Blake, watching guards pour in points on him, but coming up with big threes or rebounds as recompense.

Granted, without Kobe, there will be more shots for Pau and Dwight. However, without Kobe, defenses will no longer have to worry about #24 hitting jumpers all over the court, flying into the lane for acrobatic reverses or powerful slam dunks, or finding teammates at will. Meeks will likely slide into the starting rotation, which will force opposing defenses to respect his range, but he struggles on defense like Blake. Nash won’t be stopping anyone on the perimeter anytime soon either. Therefore, despite his obvious impact on offense, the most monumental loss of Kobe Bryant will be on the defensive end. The Lakers already struggle to stop teams, but now they will have to rely on depth, which is something MDA seems allergic to.

Regardless, at this moment, musing over how to replace the irreplaceable would draw an objection for speculation in a television court room drama. Trying to imagine a playoff spot, let alone a deep playoff run, without Kobe is, in the words of Vizzini, the Princess Bride character and not the town in Sicily, “Inconceivable!” But, this is a nightmarish, imposing obstacle that casts an enormous shadow over the Lakers. They have overcome the difficulties of injury all season, but couldn’t imagine this one. But, Kobe remains confident that the post-season is a reality, as long as the Lakers, according to him, “Prepare.”

At least now the Lakers have a new coach, one that could conceivably guide them to Ws versus the Spurs and the Rockets. Kobe already promised to do what he can for his teammates, including watching game tape and breaking down how they can continue on without him in the lineup…until next season anyways.

Tags: Kobe Bryant NBA Playoffs

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