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Kobe says Lakers’ record not a factor in his returning to play this season

Jan 18, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

If you haven’t watched the Lakers play recently — and unless you’re a die-hard fan of the team, you would have no real reason to — you may not know just how dire things have become for one of the league’s traditionally great franchises.

There is no star power in Los Angeles playing for the purple and gold at the moment, and in fact, with Nick Young suspended for Friday’s game against the Celtics, the Lakers had guys like Kendall Marshall, Ryan Kelly and Manny Harris all playing huge chunks of meaningful minutes.

The fact that they got the win over a rebuilding Boston team means little to a franchise that’s 10 games under .500 on the season, seven and a half games out of the last playoff spot in the West, and measures itself in championships.

This is a lost season for the Lakers, and one that some may suggest might be better off spent continuing to pile up losses in order to secure a more favorable draft position, rather than see Kobe Bryant try to return from injury to play alongside the mostly borderline talent on the roster.

But Bryant is facing basketball mortality, with just a couple of seasons remaining on a career that has been one of the greatest of all-time. So you can understand, then, why his team’s record this season means little to him when considering whether or not to return to play this season.

From Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders:

Regardless of how many losses overshadow those in the win column, Bryant is determined to return this season from a fractured left knee injury. Sitting out the remainder of the year is not a consideration for him.

“The only thing I can consider, the only thing I can afford to consider, is getting better and getting strong,” he said prior to the Los Angeles Lakers game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. “I can’t allow myself to think any other way. I can only think about the next day. To do anything else becomes distracting. You give yourself wiggle room to not push yourself as hard as you possibly can. If I think that I’m going to sit out or this that and the other, then the motivation is gone. I refuse to have that happen.”

In addition to wanting to milk every last moment out of the game before he hangs ‘em up for good, there could be some long-term benefits for Bryant in returning this season.

While Bryant maintains that his torn Achilles that was suffered last season had nothing to do with this latest injury (a fractured bone in his knee), no one knows for sure. Playing the remainder of the year and getting his body back into durable basketball shape may help prevent similar injuries from popping up in the future.

Whether there are benefits to a return or there aren’t, there’s no denying this season has been a wasted one for both Bryant and the Lakers. It appears, however, that once healthy enough, he’ll try to make the most of it.

  1. sportsfan18 - Jan 18, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Of course not!

    SCORING more points and passing MJ on the all time scoring record IS what is important to him.

    He doesn’t care if they win a few more games and end up picking a few slots lower in the draft as it’s NOT about the Lakers, it’s about him.

    He says it’s about championships but then signs for two more yrs where he’ll still be the highest paid player in the league which will make it more difficult for the organization to get better players this coming season, to you know BUILD a championship team again and NOW he’ll hurt their chance at a better pick in the draft.

    MAGIC is right and I’m glad HE said it. Kobe SHOULD sit the rest of this year.

    Magic cares more about the Lakers than Kobe does.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 19, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Magic cares about the Dodgers, that’s where his money is invested.

      • sportsfan18 - Jan 19, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        Exactly! And he STILL cares more about the Lakers than KoMe, KoHog, KoBrick Bryant.

        Telling isn’t it.

  2. spthegr8 - Jan 18, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    Of course he is gonna come back, this is Kobe we are talking about.IMO, I think he should come back this yr. Get his leg’s back and knock a little rust off. Love him or hate him, he is the TOUGHEST competitor in the League!!!!

  3. money2long - Jan 18, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    kobe is a ball player. you aint heard? he plays ball. this what he does. i like this mentality. and i hope people actually don’t spin this thinking as him being selfish for points. because i feel someone wanting to say that.

    • antistratfordian - Jan 19, 2014 at 11:12 PM

      Kobe is always selfish for points, so why wouldn’t people think that? That’s the reason you brought it up on your own anyway – your subconscious acknowledges the possibility.

      • money2long - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:16 AM

        subconscious or experience ?

      • money2long - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:16 AM

        see, my prediction came true. you fulfilled my prophecy.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:56 AM

        Someone already brought it up before you did – it was the first post – so you were little late on that anyway.

      • money2long - Jan 20, 2014 at 1:33 AM

        my unknowing holds even more weight in my prophecy
        thanks for letting me know :)

      • antistratfordian - Jan 21, 2014 at 6:25 PM

        >says he didn’t know
        >thinks people will believe him

      • money2long - Jan 21, 2014 at 7:38 PM

        hahaha aw, you’re so cute with your syntax.

      • money2long - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:17 AM

        thanks

  4. spthegr8 - Jan 18, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    @Money
    Your spot on Bruh. Ppl LOVE to HATE on the Mamba. He could rescue a baby from a burning building and some of the “Trolls” on this site would say he did for publicity!! LLS!!!

    • sportsfan18 - Jan 18, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      That’s because Kobe would stop and pose for the camera’s on his way out of the building with the baby.

      • davidly - Jan 18, 2014 at 4:42 PM

        Only because he’d get fined by the Commish if he didn’t give one photo op per three babies saved.

  5. davidly - Jan 18, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Look on the bright side, Lakers’ fans: You went into Boston and snatched the lineal championship away! Imagine that: taking a title from the Celtics. And Gasol went 24-13-6 with no turnovers.

    Now Boston is only the fourth team to cough up the LC after only one game, having won it from Toronto two nights earlier: Dallas lost it to Sacramento after taking it from Portland, also two nights earlier; of course the Kings lost it to Utah two nights later; and San Antonio, who lost it to the Clippers after taking it from the Jazz; though for the Spurs it was their second of two lineal titles this season, the first of which they held for nine games, which is longer than anyone so far, even Golden State who had the impressive 6 game road streak during one of their two LCs.

  6. timb12 - Jan 18, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    Lineal titles. Making basketball interesting since 2014.

  7. chapmanb2014 - Jan 18, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    The only logical reason for Kobe coming back this year is for him to prove that he can still play at a high level in order to entice potential free agents. Aside from that there is no way in hell he should play anything more than 10 games.
    1.) He already has his contract extension.
    2.) The Lakers have a legitimate shot at a top 3 pick this year.

    The Lakers also need to dump Gasol for whatever assets they can collect. We are talking about a total rebuild in LA. A late first round pick or a couple of second rounders would help them get a couple of nice bench role players.

  8. philliephaninva - Jan 18, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    Kobe who?

    • sportsfan18 - Jan 18, 2014 at 8:02 PM

      KoMe, KoHog, KoBrick Bryant.

  9. brahin9 - Jan 18, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    Regardless if people like it or not. The black mamba is going to do whatever he wants. Regardless of what people think. He’s won 5 championships and has had one of the greatest careers of all time. I can understand why some might not like that but, it’s just the way it is.
    Adapt to chaos.

  10. dinofrank60 - Jan 18, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    Sometimes I think D’Antoni likes the no star type of team he has.

  11. rdrfan - Jan 18, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    Stick a fork in him. He’s done

  12. jimeejohnson - Jan 19, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    He’s right: the Lakers are not a factor.

  13. provguard - Jan 20, 2014 at 2:52 AM

    Your knock on Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly seems a little harsh since they are playing pretty decent? It seems to me that Selfish Kobe is ONLY interested in passing Mike and willing to drag anyone down to build on his image…

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