Kobe Bryant has been plagued by injuries for the past couple of years, and whether the LA Lakers organization admits it or not his sole presence has been a hindrance to their rebuilding process. Part of that rebuilding process has been with rookie guard D’Angelo Russell, who is suffering from a bruised glute. In what can only be seen as a sad irony, fellow rookie guard Marcelo Huertas is also fighting injuries, the latest being a strained left hamstring. This would all be well and good if Bryant wasn’t being held out of the latest exhibition game against the Golden State Warriors. The team is calling his injury minor and nothing more than a bruised leg, but part of the assumption from the media is that it may be something more serious.
He’ll obviously be available to play for the season opener, as anyone who knows the legend of Kobe knows that he will play through injuries until he can’t move anymore, which is both a blessing and a curse. But as a guard in his late 30’s that has been playing in the NBA since he got out of high school, he has a lot more mileage on him than most other players. By comparison to others in his same draft class or near it, they are either retired or severely diminished. That would include fellow high school to NBA players like Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal and Tracy McGrady. Bryant is fighting a losing battle, and the problem in his particular situation is that he is being paid a king’s ransom to play at a superstar level when he isn’t even an all-star anymore. That’s not a dig at one of the best players of all time, but it’s just the reality now that his brand now far exceeds his talents.
With that said, if he can summon about 50% of his former self and Russell can come into the league and set it on fire, then the Lakers are in a prime position to attract some big name talent in the offseason. There is no word on when Kobe will decide to hang it up, but when his contract ends it would be interesting to see if they are able to attract him with a much lower salary to stick around for a rebuilding team. If not, then expect to see one of the greatest guards of all time starting for another team.
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