Los Angeles superstar continues to sit in rehab as his side’s season stutters.
It is the question most NBA fans and every Los Angeles Lakers fan is asking, can Kobe Bryant be Kobe Bryant again?
After suffering the second serious injury in less than a year, when he fractured the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, Bryant’s season along with the Lakers, was again cast into shadow.
When he made his long-awaited season debut after undergoing surgery on his torn Achilles tendon, the famous number 24 returned in more of a set-up man capacity, averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 42.5 percent shooting in six games this season.
But with his minutes being carefully managed, Bryant was again forced to learn the game he has been playing his whole life, to a certain degree.
And in the wake of the news Bryant will be out for another three weeks with the fracture in his left knee, former Lakers coach Phil Jackson beleives Bryant will return with the scorer’s mentality that has epitomised his career.
“I think he’ll be back,” Jackson said.
“I think Kobe is going to be still a scorer. He can score. We saw Michael Jordan at the end of his career still scoring 20 points a game and he was 37-38, I think. Maybe he was 38-39, I can’t really remember. But I think Kobe can still post up. I think he can still be a good screen-roll player.
“He’s going to hit shots. He can still shoot the 3-pointer. I think he’s really realistic about it. He’s really pleased. He felt like, you know, I will come back.”
Jackson, who earned five five of his history making 11 NBA titles with the Lakers, said he was surprised they paid Bryant as much as they did with his new deal, and said Dwight Howard “gave up” on the team earlier than he should have.
“They paid him more than I would have gone for, but what he’s given to this organisation, what he gives back, he brings a certain sense of, ‘We’re going to win!’ ” Jackson said.
“You got to have a guy on the team that doesn’t settle for second. That’s one of the areas where the value of Kobe, even at this age, is terrific.
“(And) Dwight gave up a little bit early on the Lakers, but maybe it wasn’t for him. Maybe he just didn’t find the culture exactly what he needed to benefit and blossom from the game. But it cost the Lakers a lot. It cost them a draft pick.”