Even if your favorite sport in the world is doing some Kobe Bryant bashing, the recent runs of games without rest while putting up some incredible numbers which most likely will be able to carry the Los Angeles Lakers into playoffs is one of the most incredible feats one of the best players in NBA history has pulled off, even if it’s not going to end up with a title ring.
Lets face it – if a team needs a 34 year old player to stay on the court for nearly 48 minutes each night and it more often than not is barely enough for a win over teams that have nothing left to play for this season, you’re probably not in the best shape to win a title, which means going through the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the postseason.
Dwight Howard is putting up numbers that are better than what he actually is playing like, while the most important thing to remember is how well the team does on defense when he’s on the floor, not anything else. Pau Gasol is putting up some impressive numbers in recent games, but it has nothing to do with a different system that finally incorporates him next to another dominant big man. Everything is about improvising and chance with the Lakers, and the only really impressive thing is Kobe Bryant.
For the past six games, which have ended up being Lakers wins, Kobe Bryant has played at least 41 minutes, going over 47 four times, and putting up a full 48 minutes in the win over the Portland Trail Blazers, scoring 47 points. He’s averaging 27.7 points per game in these games, and if all season long we’ve been talking about how Bryant scoring less and trying to do less to stack up the points column on the stat sheet, the falling apart roster means that Bryant doing everything is the only way at this point of the year the Lakers know how to win, or even can win.
Bryant has ruled in Los Angeles for nearly a decade, from the moment Shaquille O’Neal left. He has won NBA titles, got players released, got head coaches replaced and what not. This season was supposed to be the beginning of a new page – of Bryant taking a step back while Dwight Howard takes over the team while the addition of Steve Nash and the presence of Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol enables the team to make some sort of veteran title run.
Things turned out differently, partially because of Bryant’s fault. Despite his ego and all of his flaws that make it almost impossible for dominant players to thrive around him for very long without getting in the way of his vision of how the Lakers should be run, this recent run of games might be his most incredible achievement, at least since his MVP winning season in 2007. Bryant knows only one way to win, which is him scoring and the rest of the team following. While it’s not good enough in 2013 to win an NBA title, it doesn’t mean it isn’t praise-worthy, and a little bit incredible.