Rough Start to Kobe Bryant’s Comeback Is a Start Nonetheless

LOS ANGELES — To a world watching Kobe Bryant make his return from a devastating injury, it was far from a storybook ending.

To Bryant, it was a beginning.

There is no storybook because this is his real world, the only world he has ever known. Even though his life has been packed with drama and hero shots along the way.

“The last time I had eight months off, I think I was still in the womb,” he said late Sunday night.

If you want to boil it down to a story, then there are two parts to his return from a torn Achilles tendon. There's one part you can read plainly in black and white in Bryant’s postgame comments:

“Rhythm’s completely out of sync.” "A bunch of things I completely messed up on.” “I failed miserably at that.” “This is a complete failure to me.” “It’s an F. For me, it’s an F.”

Here’s Part II: Bryant said all of those things with a smile on his face.

He was, fundamentally, happy. He was just so happy to be back.

In his 18th NBA season with the same team—John Stockton’s 19 years with the Utah Jazz is the only longer such tenure—Bryant groaned like an elderly man and fluttered his lips in frustration as he sat down for his postgame press briefing. But he couldn’t hide the fact that he was damn happy to be there.

“I’ve really, really worked my butt off the entire summer to get to this place,” he said.

One story was that the Lakers were “disrupted”—Mike D’Antoni’s word, used repeatedly—by Bryant shooting 2-of-9 with eight turnovers. They never once led a Toronto team that had lost five consecutive games and then Rudy Gay to a pregame trade.

The other story was a reminder that Bryant has never, ever been about endings.


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