The One Matchup Kobe Bryant Probably Won’t Win and the Rematch He Might

LOS ANGELES — “Let the best man win.”

That’s what Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said late Friday night, looking ahead to the rest of his team’s season with a lengthening list of healthier bodies in search of playing time. A lot of guys have contracts to earn and plenty to prove.

But the actual best man, lest anyone forget, is Kobe Bryant.

Bryant also has plenty to prove, even if the NBA’s richest contract is already signed.

The problem is his body still isn’t close to healthy, and it looks like he won’t play again this season.

After all the hype about his legendary will and incomparable work ethic going up against the Achilles tendon rupture and Father Time, Bryant might wind up losing this game, 76-6.

He has stood for only six games this season—and he’ll have sat for 76 if he doesn’t come back. That’s one blowout victory for Father Time, who is sure to point out during the on-court postgame winner’s interview that all the while Bryant has been sitting, he’s only getting older.

Asked if Bryant will play again this season, D’Antoni said, “I have no answer for that one.”

Bryant’s fractured knee won’t be reexamined by Lakers doctor Steve Lombardo for another three weeks. Given the level of ongoing soreness and swelling remaining when examined Friday night, it’s completely possible that Bryant won’t be close enough to healed even to warrant an MRI or bone scan when that time is up in mid-March.

Given the season ends in mid-April and Bryant would need conditioning work and practice time, it’s completely probable that he is done for the season.

For the Lakers to get their choice of someone in the draft to play with Bryant the next two years, him not playing and the team not winning isn’t all...

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