Kobe Bryant’s Competitive Disadvantage: Why He Should Care Less About Wins

Adjectives. They're how we paint our reality, how we help others see without eyes. They're flesh and blood and pleasure and pain. They make you love or hate, care or shrug. A world without adjectives is a two-dimensional landscape lacking depth or profundity. It is barren, desolate. Oh wait, that can't be; I used descriptors in the previous sentence. I guess a world without adjectives just is. And that's not enough.

Discussing Kobe Bryant, recent adjectives have been primarily superlative: unbelievable, explosive, versatile, unstoppable, intense, hardworking, dedicated, complete, immortal, ultra-competitive. Every team would theoretically like its players to possess all of these qualities.

However, this might be the year that Kobe's competitiveness becomes a disadvantage. Kobe's will to win each and every game may not be beneficial; in fact, it may even be downright detrimental to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The reports coming out of LA concerning the status of Bryant's knee, on which he underwent surgery over the summer, have been wholly inconsistent. Kobe will be ready opening night. He will take time off. He will receive as much court time as needed. Phil Jackson will limit his minutes.

In typical Zen Master fashion, the answers won't be honestly revealed until Tuesday night, when the Lakers take the court against the Houston Rockets.

Truth is, we don't know exactly where Bryant's balky knee is at. According to Mike Bresnahan in today's LA Times, Kobe claims "everything [is] fine" and he could play 40 minutes if necessary. That begs the question: Do we believe him?

What we do know is that Black Mamba hasn't been his athletic, effective self during the preseason. He has shot a woeful 28.2 percent from the field and 17.2 percent from behind the arc, and he appears to be missing his usual burst and lift. By all accounts he's definitely not 100 percent, rather at a stage in recovery that would probably ...

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