By Mitch Chortkoff
Doctor Robert Klapper, ESPN radio’s medical expert with a distinguished reputation in his field, told listeners that because the injury is on a lower extremity Kobe won’t be able to train during the six weeks to get back into playing shape.
Most likely, then, the Lakers can expect to be without the Kobe they’ve come to rely on for probably two months.
Well, two months from now the Lakers are likely to be buried so deep in the standings that Kobe won’t be able to rescue them.
They’ll either fail to make the playoffs or get in at the bottom this season, meaning they’d play one of the elite teams in the first round without the home court advantage..
What would happen? Well, last season the Lakers qualified as the No. 7 seed and were swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.
Realizing all of that, I advise the Lakers to keep Kobe out for the rest of the season.
They’ve made the controversial decision to sign him for two more years for nearly $50 million. They should allow Kobe to recover for a longer period, giving him the best chance of being at full strength for the start of the 2014-15 season. Or as close to full strength as his injury permits.
Kobe deserves that and so do Laker fans.
It would be painful for Laker management to admit that keeping Kobe out would be the best way to go.
But you can’t fool the public and before long fans are going to realize the Lakers aren’t a serious championship contender this season with or without Kobe.
Not only is Kobe 35 but he’s an old 35 in terms of basketball mileage. He plays in international events most summers as a key member of the United States team. I applaud his tenacity, his competitive spirit, but now he’s fighting injuries that typically come to older players.
Eighteen years with the Lakers and he has signed to make it 20, the most anyone has played with one team in NBA history.
But now Steve Nash and Steve Blake have encountered injuries too, weakening the Lakers’ chances of contending for a championship this season.
What a miserable two seasons it has been for the Lakers.
Besides injury problems there’s been the matter of Coach Mike D’Antoni favoring a system that relies on outside shooting instead of getting the ball to the center.
A disgruntled Dwight Howard left for Houston when he became a free agent and Pau Gasol, now the starting center, has clashed with D’Antoni over the strategy.
Did you notice that the other night Houston coach Kevin McHale told Howard before a game in Detroit “we’re riding you tonight.”
Howard responded with his season high of 35 points.
He seldom if ever received the same encouragement from D’Antoni, who simply has a different philosophy.
Now add Kobe’s troubles to what’s been going on with the Lakers, so I recommend a long rest for him and, hopefully, a fresh start next season.