The Return of the Black Mamba

kobe bryant dunk slam mag
Kobe Bryant #24

The NBA is back and so is Kobe Bryant! One of the most hated players ever, and one of the most loved as well. There is no happy-medium with this guy, you have to go all in. Some people consider him one of the greatest of all time, some even consider him the best. Others would argue that Michael Jordan and LeBron James are way better. I am one of those who consider him one of the greatest, alongside Jordan, and better than James.

Entering his 20th season in the NBA, at age 37, Kobe is back and healthy. For those of you that are not aware, he is coming from two career ending injuries, a Torn Achilles in his right foot and a fractured knee in the right leg one right after the other. Causing him to miss basically most of the 2013-2014 season, and all of the 2014-2015 season. Former players of the league thought he would have and maybe should have retired, for he has nothing left to prove, and should not put his body through so much at his age. But this is Kobe we are talking about, he has been known to be stubborn, but I think that is what makes him so great. Even when all odds are against him, he loves to prove people wrong, so of course he has come back this season to do just that!

He has shown some rust during his first week back after a whole year of rehab. There was no doubt there was going to be some, but unfortunately for him he plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, a city home of 17 titles, 5 of which belong to him. The fans have been spoiled and accustomed to winning, and the fact that their neighbours the LA Clippers are one of the favorites to win the title, have made Laker fans even more desperate. They want to win, by any means necessary. Some of these fans are even willing to move on from the Kobe era who have brought so much glory to the city and the team. They want to get rid of him and move on to someone who will keep winning them titles. They are spoiled and ungrateful, but rightfully so I suppose. To this franchise winning is the only thing that matters, so why should the fans be any different?

I feel bad for Kobe, who has sacrificed his body to win at all costs. Maybe he should have retired, but going out because of injury is not something someone as stubborn as him was going to do. He wants to go out on his own terms, but that means adapting to the team’s needs instead of the team adapting to him like in previous years. He no longer has his athleticism, and because he has been forced out of the game due to injuries, that itself makes him an injury risk at any point of the game or season.

It has not started off well by Laker standards. But that’s because they are used to his greatness, so they can’t appreciate when is just good instead of great. They expect him to become the playmaker the team needs, but someone who has played his whole career carrying the team by scoring 25+ points every night cannot possibly make that change overnight. Laker fans need to be patient, either he adapts or keeps forcing his game as he always has. Regardless of what ends up happening, I hope Kobe can maintain his health this season, as he is entering the twilight of his career, and we should appreciate him while he is still playing his heart out, as there will never be another Black Mamba.

***ALL IMAGES USED IN THIS POST CAME FROM: http://www.slamonline.com

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