The hype surrounding Kobe Bryant and his return from his Achilles tear was so big that not even the Black Mamba was able to live up to it. Bryant struggled terribly in his first game back against the Toronto Raptors. Kobe even went as far as to say he deserved an “F” for his first game back.
The critics were quick to jump at the fact that Bryant looked like a shell of his former self and an ESPN anchor even went far enough as saying “Kobe resembled Michael Jordan in his Washington Wizards‘ days”. Really? One game back from an Achilles tear and everyone is going to jump down Bryant’s throat? Well Kobe proved last night he still has quite a bit left in the tank.
The Black Mamba’s two games back from injury have been like night and day. In his first game back, Bryant struggled shooting, turned the ball over way too much and failed to score double digits. In his second game back last night against the Phoenix Suns, Kobe hit the 20 point mark, made more shots than he missed and cut his turnovers down by more than half. That’s quite the improvement from his first game back.
There is still an elephant in the room though. The Los Angeles Lakers are 0-2 with Bryant back in the lineup. Basically, regardless of how Kobe plays, unless the Lakers begin winning Kobe is going to have to deal with critics saying L.A. is better without Bryant. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it won’t stop the media from talking about it.
My guess is the longer Kobe plays the better the Lakers will start to look. There is no need to throw in the towel on Bryant’s return or the Lakers as a whole. In due time, Kobe will be fully healthy and in complete game shape. As soon as that occurs expect to see the Lakers continue their competitiveness, and when it’s all said and done L.A. will be in the postseason.
Michael Pidgeon is a Los Angeles Dodgers writer for Rant Sports.com: “Like” him on Facebook, Follow him on Twitter @1AndOnlyPidgeon, add him to your network on Google or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org