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Charles Barkley: Kobe Bryant should take rest of season off

Dec 20, 2013, 10:45 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant didn’t mince words, and neither did Charles Barkley.

“Only an idiot would” doubt his resolve to return, Kobe said.

“Kobe Bryant shouldn’t play anymore this year,” Barkley said.

Kobe is definitely right, and Barkley might be right.

Nobody should even consider that Kobe won’t work as hard as he can to get back on the court as soon as possible, but that’s precisely why Barkley is also on the right track.

It’s possible Kobe is fully healthy and rehabilitated within six weeks, as originally projected. I’m not convinced of that, given Kobe’s age, but it’s possible. If that happens, Kobe should return. There’s no sense of him sitting when he’s capable of playing.

However – and this is a point raised by Barkley – Adrian Peterson has set unrealistic expectations for returning from injury. This shouldn’t be a competition, though it will be to someone as competitive as Kobe. If he rushes back (again?), he’s exposing himself to further injury.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $50,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,500. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here’s the FanDuel link.The Lakers weren’t bad without Kobe, though probably not good enough to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. They were still finding there way with Kobe when he went down, and if he returns this year, they’ll just have to re-start that process.

I wouldn’t go as far as Barkley – “With or without him, the Lakers suck either way” – but this Lakers season hinges less on Kobe than perhaps any other.

If Kobe can get fully healthy for next season, even if that means sitting out the rest of this year, the Lakers will be better off. And if Kobe misses the rest of this season, he might even have a shiny new lottery pick to help him next year.

  1. nflcrimerankingscom - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Overuse leads to more overuse.

    The achilles injury was not some freak accident but the large amount of minutes Kobe played did not allowed sufficient recovery of the tendon (stress / strain properties change).

    Now, after that injury, Kobe is back but not fully recovered and will put asymmetric loading on his body, which ends up putting more stress on another body part.

    If he comes back again prematurely, he’ll have two injuries he’ll try to compensate for. Who knows what that will lead too…

    • mytthor - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      I preface this comment by saying I absolutely don’t know either way…

      Multiple doctors and sports medicine experts that were interviewed about Kobe’s achilles injury when it happened, without fail, stated unequivocally that the injury was not related to overuse. Every talking head pulling stuff out of his butt (like Barkley) stated that the opposite is true, but every doctor I saw interviewed maintained that there would have been no link.

    • pbtunpaidwriter - Dec 20, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      TANK MODE. They should just tank and get the #10 overall pick, sign a couple free agents, pair them with Kobe and the high draft pick and they’ll be a definite playoff team.

      This is a lost season.

      • zerole00 - Dec 20, 2013 at 1:29 PM

        What free agents? Kobe takes up almost half their roster salary so if they go for a max player they’re going to be dropping off a cliff when it comes to roster depth. That’s not even mentioning the hit or miss nature of the draft.

      • musician0785 - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:49 PM

        you do realize that he takes up half because he makes 30 now, he wont make 30 next year, that along with the combination of having basically 2 guys on the books means that after this year his salary will MAYBE be a 1/3 of it…and 6 people liked that grossly uniformed statement lmaooo

      • sportsfan18 - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:06 PM


        The math is simple. You said that “MAYBE” Kobe’s salary will take up 1/3 of the cap next year.

        We all know that $20 million is one third of $60 million.

        Kobe WILL make $23.5 million next season. $23.5 is one third of $70.5

        Now the cap isn’t set yet for next season, but this season, the cap is $58.5 million.

        So even if it rises by $2 million, the cap would be $60.5 and Kobe’s salary would be 38.84% of the cap.

        The cap MIGHT not rise by $2 million either. It might only reach $60 million.

        You said “MAYBE” one third of the cap, meaning he’d be a bit less or up to that amount.

        Well, he IS going to make $23.5 next yr so the cap better skyrocket up over $70 million for him to ONLY count a third of their cap.

        Your math of maybe Kobe taking one third of the cap is not correct.

      • musician0785 - Dec 20, 2013 at 6:03 PM

        This isn’t football, the Lakers can go over the cap, you do realize that right?

    • jackxp99 - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:47 PM

      Will Kobe’s injury doom the Lakers? Ah, last I checked they had a better record WITHOUT him.

    • redbaronx - Dec 22, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      @nflcrimerankingscom – I completely agree with every word you said. Too many players try to be superman these days. Yes training / recovery methods and techniques are better than they have ever been, but it’s very easy to forget that in some cases the body really needs to heal.

      I think Kobe tried to push his comeback and like you said, it puts stress on different parts of the body. At his age he should be taking his time to make sure he’s right first. He doesn’t want to be like MJ at the end of his career with the Wizards going back and forth from injury and trying to come back quick.

  2. chargerdillon - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    As a diehard Laker and Kobe fan….I would like him to retire. I appreciate all of the 5 championships he brought us from his dynasty run with Shaq to rebuilding with Gasol. Kobe has done so much for the organization it’s amazing I have nothing but respect and appreciation for all of his effort.

    BUT…..(big but here)…. time goes on, he’s only getting older, we also have an ancient Steve Nash on this team who also isn’t playing.

    As big as Kobe’s heart is, his ego is double that size and wont allow him to do what is right for his body and for the Lakers.

    All of the greats in their sports eventually have to accept their own diminishing returns and it’s the very hardest pill for the elite of elites to swallow.

    Kobe will never be Jordan and Jordan will never be Kobe. There is nothing left to prove there. It’s time to move on and start planning for the future.

    As a lowly San Diego Chargers fan I watched the single greatest player they ever had in franchise history go through this same struggle, and instead of taking a lesser role in the city where he was treated like a god, he felt betrayed and left for another team in the exact same role we had offered him. I can see Kobe doing the exact same thing, just because of his inability to accept his own limitations as an aging ballplayer.

    Absolutely love Kobe but it’s time to make some hard business decisions.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 21, 2013 at 2:09 AM

      good thing you are not Kobe and good thing you don’t run the Lakers.

  3. legend30 - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Barkley is right he should miss the entire season. Lakers’ are not tanking, they’re just that bad.

  4. rajbais - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    I don’t completely disagree.

    However, I always agreed with anyone who felt that nationally televised Lakers games were excessive in quantity with or without Kobe.

    ESPN, karma is a b****.

    Kobe, get better soon man!

  5. money2long - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    kobe is calling idots those who doubt his RESOLVE to return. barkley is not doubting his resolve. he just doesn’t think he should return.

  6. valeb2012 - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Barkley’s advice will go unheeded and it should. Kobe, like any great competitor, will want to play as soon as possible. Once the medical staff (and they have the best) says he can play, he will. Whether the Lakers are a lottery team or make the playoffs, or Kobe will injure again is not what’s important to Kobe. His time is running out and he wants to play while he can. And he should. This is one of the greatest players ever and if he’s cleared to play, he will. The rest is not important to him or to the Lakers. Perhaps the franchise should care more about how they design the team going forward, but when you have arguably the greatest Laker ever, you let him ride out his career as he wants. There’s something to be said about going down with the ship. It may seem stupid, but as Zach Randolph will tell you, people remember loyalty and commitment. I think people will remember the Lakers honoring their best players. I’m a big Laker/Kobe fan and frankly, I was a bit disgusted by how the Celtics dealt with Pierce and Garnett. Pierce should’ve retired a Celtic. And if Pierce played one season too many, you can live with it.

    • eventhorizon04 - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      “I was a bit disgusted by how the Celtics dealt with Pierce and Garnett. Pierce should’ve retired a Celtic. And if Pierce played one season too many, you can live with it.”

      Not a Celtics fan, but it’s not exactly complicated what happened.
      Pierce and Garnett wanted to leave.
      KG had a no-trade clause, so to be traded, he literally had to give permission. A trade could not occur without KG being up for it. And reportedly, as part of agreeing to be traded, KG demanded that Pierce be brought along with him so Pierce isn’t left alone on a non-contender. That implies Pierce also consented to be traded too, otherwise KG wouldn’t have demanded that Ainge include Pierce in any KG trade.

      So if the Celtics wanted to trade players, and if those players wanted to be traded, why would you be “disgusted?”

      And the Lakers just guaranteed Kobe would continue to be the highest paid player in the NBA the next 2 seasons after this one ends. Not sure how potentially shutting him down for the season in the interests of his long-term health is being “disloyal.”

      • zerole00 - Dec 20, 2013 at 1:32 PM

        Actually I don’t think it was so much that KG and Pierce wanted to be traded as much as they realized they’d be helping their team (while also having a legitimate shot at getting another ring) and the Celtics ended up getting a kings ransom in return. Let’s put it this way, if the team hadn’t approached KG and Pierce about a trade I don’t think those two would have made an effort to be traded.

      • 1historian - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        Kobe in all probability came back sooner than he really should have, given the severity of his injury and his advancing age.

        Now he’s hurt again – this time for at least 6 weeks. How much do you want to bet he’ll claim that he’s back in 5? It’s the way he is.10 years ago it would have been admirable, now it’s not. The dude is getting up there and is getting more injury prone as he does, and he’s getting frantic to get that 6th ring or whatever so he can say he has matched MJ.

        Damaged goods, and not likely to get any better as he gets older, and meanwhile the Lakers are stuck with paying him forty-eight million dollars over the next few seasons.

  7. eventhorizon04 - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Let’s see. In 6 weeks, the most optimistic timeline for Kobe to return, it will be February, with only 3 months left in the season. Right now, the Lakers’ record is 12-13, which in the Eastern Conference would make them a 6th seed, but in the loaded Western conference leaves them as the only 11th seed.

    If I were the Lakers, I would have Kobe take his time rehabbing because priority number 1 is avoiding him becoming vulnerable to repeat injury. If in about 8-10 weeks or so, Kobe is looking really good in practice, I’d take a look at the standings. If the Kobe-less Lakers go on a good run to be within striking distance of the 8th seed, I’d re-activate Kobe and try to make a playoff push. Once you’re in the playoffs, you never know what could happen in terms of injuries on other teams.

    However, if the Lakers are still in the 11th or below seed at that point, I’d have Kobe play sparingly to ease his return. So no back to backs, no 35+ minutes per game, etc. That lets him get back into rhythm while minimizing injury risk.

  8. gquesen - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    I like Barkley, but is anyone else getting tired of his end-all-be-all statements? I sure am.

    • 24thesho - Dec 20, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      ‘there were”, I meant.

    • 24thesho - Dec 20, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      Please excuse my many annoying typos in my prior post.

      Charles Barkley is a few things. He’s a HOFer, redefined his position and much of the game, played in an era when there were many of the games greatest players battling, is not broke…., at all, he’s an Olympic Gold Medalist who played on probably the best basketball team ever assembled in the history of the sport. Yeah, he repeats himself whenever attempting to, or, making a valid point. And, he has to sit next to and at times constantly take a back seat to an average NBA player who just happened to be fortunate enough to win a pair of rings ( Kenny “The Jet” Smith….that alone would piss me t.f. off dealing with that smirk and arrogance) and he speaks his mind..good or bad, but often more correct than incorrect. So, until I hear or see another former historic superstar N.B.A. player come along with equal or more t.v. charisma, credibility, historic basketball achievements and (again) former superstar perspective, then, I think his NBA analyses does more than just hold water. Sorry about the typos, again.

      • redbaronx - Dec 22, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        @24thesho – I agree with you. Barkley may make some pretty bombastic and off the mark comments now and then, but more often he’s right then wrong. The only asterisk I would put to this is when he talks about college hoops. Not his area. But NBA players, teams, and strategy, he usually hits the mark before others do, and I think he’s got the right perspective on Kobe. Kobe should take time to heal. He’s been going hard since he was a teen and rushing back is probably going to do more harm than good in reinjuring himself. The Lakers are not going to be significantly better even with a fully healthy Kobe. I’m not saying Kobe should give up on the season, but he should err on the side of caution and take his time making sure he can really play full blast.

  9. MyTeamsAllStink - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Kobes getting older not better.Hows that contract lookin now Jim Buss?

    • zerole00 - Dec 20, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      That contract was about making the team money, not contending. Kobe’s making them way more money than the contract he was given. Heck, just the other day I saw an article about Kobe and LBJ having the highest jersey sales this year.

      • 1historian - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        That’s not the point he was trying to make.I think what he means is – with Kobe’s contract being the size it is how much money can the Lakers spend to get the quality players Kobe will need around him in the next 2 years?

      • musician0785 - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:52 PM

        next year the lakers payroll would drop from 80 mil to 35 mil (and that inlcudes kobe’s contract) that means the lakers would have about 50 mil to spend before going over the cap… to answer your question 50 mil…

      • sportsfan18 - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:14 PM


        Just WHAT amount do you think the cap is right now in the league?

        $85 million as you say they have $35 million so far next year leaving them to spend about $50 BEFORE going over the cap (35 plus 50 equals 85).

        I have news for you. The CAP is nowhere near that high.

        The CAP for this season is $58.679 million. It was $58.044 million in 2012/2013 so it went up less than 1 million from last season to this season.

        One should simply use about $60 million as the cap for next season. And Kobe is getting $23.5 next yr or 38.8% of the cap.

        Your link shows salaries. The cap isn’t and won’t be like $85 million next yr.

      • sportsfan18 - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:17 PM


        just because the lakers payroll is $80 million this year, that does NOT mean that is the salary cap.

      • musician0785 - Dec 20, 2013 at 6:07 PM

        Why are you talking like the cap we’re talking about is a hard one, IT ISNT, teams are able to go over the cap provided they pay the luxury tax, which the Lakers have shown they have no problem doing.

      • musician0785 - Dec 20, 2013 at 6:10 PM

        I am well aware of the cap number. Unlike the NFL, it really means little to teams that are willing to pay luxury tax, also with the added advantage that being under the cap means more flexibility in trades.

      • mackcarrington - Dec 20, 2013 at 7:09 PM

        I once thought as you do about the salary cap. I found out I was wrong.
        You can go over the salary cap only to resign your OWN players. You can’t go over the cap by signing NEW players.

      • musician0785 - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:08 PM

        or you can go over the cap to resign players you trade for a la a sign and trade for free agents

      • mackcarrington - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:49 PM

        I admit that I don’t know the NBA CBA point for point, but your post doesn’t quite make sense to me.
        If you sign a player from another team, and then trade for him , that doesn’t make him YOUR OWN FREE AGENT.
        He is a player on another team. How can you “resign” him, as you say if he isn’t your property in the first place?
        Can you please elaborate?

      • musician0785 - Dec 22, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        If you trade for a player you also trade for his bird rights, which allows you to go over the cap to resign him….That’s how the lakers were able to resign Gasol, and were able to offer D12 more money than anyone else, thats how the knicks were able to trade for melo and the resign him.

  10. allday420ap - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Kobe and SHaron rodgers are two peas in a pod.

    • 1historian - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      I’ll play your silly game – Who is SHaron Rogers?

      • allday420ap - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        Dont you know history?

        Shes a historically cowardly qb for the trashiest team in all the land.

    • bougin89 - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      “Shes a historically cowardly qb for the trashiest team in all the land.”

      Ironic that you call a team trashy while posting a trashy comment. What’s not ironic is that your comment didn’t make any sense.

  11. jammer73 - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    To quote Mike North this morning “Kobe Bryant is a flat tire”. LOL!!!!

  12. antistratfordian - Dec 20, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Let’s hope he doesn’t do what he did last rehab and tweet pictures of krispy kreme doughnuts saying “Diet be damned #onewonthurt” then try to come back 25 pounds too tubby.

    • money2long - Dec 21, 2013 at 3:27 AM

      free endorsement. krispy kreme sure liked it

  13. losanginsight - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    Yes, its miserable being a Lakers fan. I have been dragged through 9 Titles since I’ve been alive. The oginization should fold since the last Ring was won 3 years ago. I should just become a fan if a team with a championship pedigree like the clippers, knicks, nets, magic, hawks, wolves, warriors, thunder, or even jump on the heat bandwagon.

  14. pw1265 - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Who really cares what Kobe does….he is over the hill and his body is breaking down.
    just retire already, you will never be great again….just ask MJ how that goes, or Sir Charles for that matter…….

  15. noahbird - Dec 20, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    Lakers, good job with that business decision… Not!

    I’m getting tired of watching Mitch & the Buss kids make horrible basketball decisions w/ no vision for the future.

  16. lakerade - Dec 21, 2013 at 1:56 AM

    As I saw in person tonight, the Lakers don’t tank.

  17. cheathamhouse1 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    Whether you agree or disagree with Barkley, you have to give him credit for always speaking his mind. Sometimes it’s very funny and sometime it’s very annoying, but it’s definitely how he feels. In a world full of diplomatic statements and disclaimers, there sits Sir Charles on his throne of frankness. And further, he doesn’t care what anyone says about him after he makes these statements. In this case, I think it would be best for Kobe to let his complete body heal so there is absolutely no physical compensation of any sort…he must be balanced to avoid other further injury. Now’s the time for Kobe to take a Tai-Chi type of approach to the game. I hope that once the doctors clear him, he is really ready and doesn’t just let his need to have something to prove be the sole driving force. But I think that we all know this part of Kobe and what he will do: Return as soon as he is cleared. It’s who he is as he so definitively has stated…only an “idiot” would think otherwise.

  18. kanemoney - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:11 AM

    What makes this league tough is that you either need (1) the best player in the league or (2) a strong team that compliments each other and is likely comprised of at least 3 stars who are each top 5-10 in their position. With either you need a defensive minded coach who is building their team for the post season (aka NOT D’Antoni).

    Kobe is not the best player in the league – he may be top 5-10 at best. The Lakers do not have a strong overall team. Pau is solid, but essentially everyone else is discardable. They lack strong role player veterans as well.

    If Phil Jackson was still the coach, I really believe life would be different. Dwight + Kobe + Pau is pretty darn solid, if coached correctly.

    Ultimately the ego at fault here is not Bryant, it’s Buss.

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