The Los Angeles Lakers will play their first game of the 2014-2015 NBA Season against the Houston Rockets. This means Jeremy Lin will play his first game on his new team against the old one, while Kobe Bryant, back from a long injury that kept out from most of last season, will play against Dwight Howard for the first time since their turbulent time together.
Not that Kobe Bryant needed a special reason for attention on his first game. He played only six games last season. The Lakers crashed and burned without him, although they weren’t that good with him as well. This is a chance for him to prove that at 36 he’s still capable of leading a team, and leading it to success and not just scoring endlessly without any goal at the end of night or the season for him to achieve.
Dwight Howard on the other end? That’s just a bonus. A special bonus for someone who loves every bit of motivation like Bryant. The NBA made a big mistake when it didn’t schedule the first game between the Rockets and the Lakers last season in Los Angeles. Maybe they knew Bryant wouldn’t be playing, but once the Rockets actually got to play the Lakers in Los Angeles, it was clear their season wasn’t going anywhere.
Bryant didn’t play in any of the four games against the Rockets last season. The Lakers stole one game in Houston early on, but lost the three following encounters. It wasn’t a fair fight. Bryant seeing Howard, someone he almost openly despises after a season together, will make his return game after playing only six times last season even more special, although it might be an extra reason for him to try and steal the show.
There’s no need explaining why this game will be special for Jeremy Lin. The Rockets traded him this summer just to get rid of his salary. If a player needs a vote of non-confidence, that’s exactly that. The Rockets stalled and possibly hurt Jeremy Lin’s career progress through the deployment in wrong positions before being benched for no reason other than not being liked by the head coach.
Lin doesn’t hate James Harden, and Harden, at least when talking to the media, has always been supportive of Lin. But it’s quite clear why things didn’t work out for Lin in Houston: There was no room for two point guards, and Harden has decided a long time ago that despite not filling that role all that well, he wants to be a point guard. This will be chance for Lin to show him up, but mostly prove the Rockets wrong for getting rid of him.