Can Kobe Bryant Silence Even His Strongest Skeptics Entering Age-36 Season?

Kobe Bryant and the concept of "can't" have never gone together. 

He couldn't win a title without Shaquille O'Neal. He couldn't will the ill-starred 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers into the playoffs. 

He can't successfully come back from two severe injuries at 36 years old, with nearly two decades of NBA wear and tear on his treads and inordinate amounts of self-foisted pressure on his back. 

Supernatural work ethic and competitive fire in mind, Bryant could be done. He should be done. His 78-game on-court attack in 2012-13 will go down as his swan song, the last time Bryant is remembered for being Bryant.

That's what his strongest skeptics will say without hesitation. They won't bend to Bryant's unfathomable drive. They won't submit to his self-endorsing droplets of wisdom.

Is this decision to doubt him, to write him off, something Bryant will make them come to regret? Or are his agnostics the ones with a firm grip on reality? 


Laying Groundwork

Doubt is everywhere as it pertains to Bryant. But so, too, is optimism.

"I'm not worried," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told Sports On Earth's Lyle Spencer. "Kobe looks great. He's had two rough years. The Achilles was a freak thing, and the knee—I'm not sure anybody can predict that kind of thing. He's actually been healthy since May. He's ready, motivated. And he's engaged."

For every one person who believes Bryant is finished, there are more dreamers and idealists subscribing to different logic. Many of them are members of the Lakers organization itself, like Kupchak. Anyone responsible or who had a hand in offering him that two-year, $48.5 million extension before he even returned from a ruptured Achilles can be colored a believer.

This is one of the many things often lost on said extension. It's quickly cited for its ridiculousness...

About the Author