For all those Laker fanatics who were sure that Kobe Bryant would not skip a beat upon his return to the court after 240 days, that he would pick up right where he left off and be his usual superstar self…
Any logical, reasonable, and realistic member of Laker Nation wouldn’t have been surprised at the numbers that Kobe put up in his 27 minutes against the Toronto Raptors at Staples on Sunday night:
- Nine points on two-of-nine shooting, which included a bad air ball on his first attempt.
- Eight rebounds, which was actually pretty good as it tied with Jordan Hill for the team lead.
- Four assists, which likewise tied for the team lead in the game with Steve Blake.
The “Black Mamba” statistic that was most noticed in the Lakers’ 106-94 loss to the 7-12 Raptors, however, was this one:
- Eight turnovers, which matched his rebounds and almost matched his points total.
Indeed, it was Toronto’s Amir Johnson who was the most Kobe-like, smacking L.A. around with his 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting. Former USC player DeMar DeRozan did much damage as well, missing but one of his 11 free throw attempts on his way to 26 points.
Bryant acknowledged his rust after missing nearly eight months due to a torn Achilles tendon, giving himself an “F” for his performance but also saying that his less-than-stellar showing “…is a start. A start is good.”
Laker coach Mike D’Antoni concurred with Kobe when he said:
“It’s going to take a while…I know everybody thought he could, but there’s no way you can come out and be in midseason form. It’s just going to be a little while to get his legs and get his timing back.”
I couldn’t have said it better, as that sums it all up.
At least Kobe’s Achilles, according to him, is “completely fine”.
Most folks reckon that Bryant is aiming for the Lakers’ Christmas Day showdown against the Miami Heat for him to truly bust loose and play like the Kobe of old.
We’ll have to wait a little more than two weeks to find out if that resolution will be fulfilled.
In the meantime, check out Kobe’s post game news conference: