Healthy Kobe Bryant Is Exactly What 2014-15 NBA Season Needs

The NBA needs Kobe Bryant more than ever.

With a massive new TV deal, as first reported by Richard Sandomir of The New York Times, and a skyrocketing salary cap encroaching on the horizon, the league is careening toward an unfamiliar era. Bryant, as familiar a face as there is in the NBA, can serve as a bridge to that new age.

Perhaps that'll be his last act as an active NBA icon. If it is, he appears committed to making it a damn entertaining one.

Because however you feel about Kobe's contract, his attitude or his place in history (arguments about his G.O.A.T.-ness spring up everywhere), you can't deny the NBA is a better, more compelling product when he's a part of it.

Case in point: Bryant turned an utterly meaningless preseason game Oct. 6 into a must-watch affair.


A New (Old) Brand of Entertainment

Bryant scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting in 21 minutes against the Denver Nuggets in his first game action since Dec. 17, 2013. And he looked good—if you take new Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott at his word:

Scott's exaggerating a bit there; Bryant looked like himself, albeit a modified version.

His lift was entirely gone, a fact made evident by his endless pump fakes in the lane (a telltale sign the springs are no longer springy) and ridiculously tough, highly contested fadeaways. Those shots were always difficult, but now that Bryant can't get off the floor, they look nearly impossible.

Nonetheless, Bryant made his fair share, earning bonus points for the heightened degree of difficulty attending each leaning fling.

He operated mainly out of the post and dribbled far less than a younger version of himself might have. It was a lesson in energy conservation, an acknowledgment that limitations—once nonexistent—are now things that define Bryant's play. Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers