Father Time Finally Catching Up to Kobe Bryant, and It’s a Sight No One Enjoys

LOS ANGELES — Gone is the arrogance that comes with having the unsinkable Kobe Bryant.

There's a certain sadness to the Los Angeles Lakers these days.

The start of the season saw the same old in-your-face determination from the franchise that Kobe could still be Kobe. The mentality was more indignant than ever, actually, because of the way new coach Byron Scott believed, preached and grandstanded.   

Now that spirit has been defeated.

Critics need not even mock Bryant's salary or shooting percentage anymore. Something greater is now out of whack, and it's not the kind of failure that's fun to argue over.

Scott ignored the warning signs and broke the classic engine down. It's not the flat-tire Achilles rupture or the cracked-rear-axle knee fracture. This has to do with the very fire inside—the spark to ignite and run.

The humbling continued Sunday night at the Staples Center, where Bryant did not play for the fifth time in 11 games, simply opting for rest as the Lakers fell to Portland, 106-94. Scott stopped by the confessional beforehand to take the blame for pushing Bryant to "overload."

"I was wrong," Scott said to reporters about his insistence on over-utilizing Bryant.

Now, Scott is trying to un-unspool Bryant's yarn, if possible.

"I guess I'm just trying to kind of make up for all the minutes I played him earlier," Scott said. "Get him more rest."

Bryant showed signs of being refreshed after his initial three-game break over Christmas. He accepted failure, spoke of his body not letting him do all the things he was used to doing as a relentless offensive attacker and proceeded to average 14.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.8 assists in five games while taking a calmer, quieter role.

Then what initially seemed to be Bryant sitting out the second game of a back-to-back set as a precaution swirled in...

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