How Kobe Bryant Must Adapt to Succeed with Los Angeles Lakers in 2014-15

Kobe Bryant isn't Kobe Bryant anymore. 

The work ethic and drive are there, the ruthlessness is alive and well and the saucy, defiant self-assuredness is intact. But his body is different. The Los Angeles Lakers are different. 

Time has passed. Plans have shifted. Coaches have left, and certain players will too. 

Things in Lakerland have changed.

To succeed and grant himself a legitimate shot at that sixth championship ring, Bryant must too. 


Selfless Mamba

Talk of Bryant's full recovery fails to recognize one pressing, unassailable dilemma: There will be no full recovery.

This is not to say that Bryant is done, nor does it gloss over his superhuman, caustic rejection of personal limitations. This doesn't even have anything to do with him only playing six games last season.

It's just the truth.

Whatever Bryant does, whatever he intends to do, life will never be like it once was. He won't return to the Lakers lineup and play 40 minutes a night while going one-on-five. Willingly or involuntarily shouldering that workload is no longer possible. The matter of necessity is preservation—finding ways for him to remain effective without compromising his body and what's left of his storied career.

Adjusting to his new constraints starts with his role. Bryant will still shoot, because that's what he does. Asking him to be something other than a scorer first and foremost goes against nearly two decades worth of demonstration. And yet, this is exactly what the Lakers must do.

When he begins his 19th season in 2014-15, he must do so as a frequent distributor. The Lakers will likely have at least two point guards on the docket in Kendall Marshall and Steve Nash, but there is room for Bryant to bear plenty of the playmaking responsibilities.

Nash, for one, is ...

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