Kobe Bryant’s Return: 9 Points That Restored Our Basketball Universe

LOS ANGELES—With the return of Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to the court Sunday, in spite of the 106-94 loss to the Toronto Raptors, things around Los Angeles and in STAPLES Center just seemed right again.

In his first post-game news conference, Bryant was back dropping his usual off-the-cuff comments and holding court in front of the Experian-sponsored Lakers banner with a smile that filled the entire press room.

A smile eight months in the making.

A grin that, for never taking a day off during his recovery and fighting seven days a week just to get back on the court, was well-deserved and a relief to see.

A return that some never expected and some doubted could ever happen.

Now officially on the books for the 2013-14 season, Kobe Bryant is up to his usual tricks—staying awake until 2:00 AM watching film on the game he just played against the Toronto Raptors to improve on his performance and challenge himself to get better.

Kobe finished with 9 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists on 29 minutes of play, but just the mere fact that he has game footage to analyze is extraordinary in and of itself.

Forget the stats: Kobe’s return Sunday night at STAPLES Center meant so much more than Game 20 of the NBA season.

It was a living tribute to the work ethic that’s defined one the greatest legacies in sport and an entirely new accomplishment from the most decorated and distinguished player in the league today.

Whether he played one minute or the whole 48 on Sunday, it wouldn’t have mattered.

Bryant won just by returning to the court, and whether we were recording the game at home or watching it live, we all knew it.

Having no statistics to his name for the 2013-14 season, the STAPLES Center crowd erupted into their customary “M-V-P!” chant when Kobe Bryant first stepped to the line in the first quart...

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