What more does Kobe Bean Bryant have to do to qualify as the best player ever to don the royal purple and gold of the Lakers? On Sunday night against the Timberwolves in Minnesota, Bryant took another step to being viewed as the top dog of franchise royalty.
In what has been a tumultuous year for Kobe at age 33, he’s still cruising like a love boat on a lake. The irrepressible Bryant is having one of his best seasons in the midst of losing out on love.
Getting through a divorce, grinding through a new system and going hard in the aftermath of a long NBA lockout, Kobe has been undaunted. As his method of operation tends to, nothing outside of the court has bothered him on the hardwood.
His performance this season makes one wonder what he’d play like if the NBA had a regular training camp. While the Lakers didn’t get a chance to get acclimated to Mike Brown’s new offense, it didn’t hurt Bryant.
Maybe it’s hurting the unlucky in love Lakers, though, who moved to 2-7 on the road this season with the win at Target Center. Kobe’s play this 66-game season nonetheless shows, once again, that he thrives best in a free-wheeling system.
With the restraints of Phil Jackson’s triangle offense thrown off him, Bryant has bedazzled the NBA. Averaging over 30 points per game, he’s the leading scorer in the league. Kobe dropped 35 crucial points on the Wolves and the unlucky, in this game, Kevin Love.
Kobe’s exploits, though, allowed the Lakers to take a 53-45 lead at halftime. It was Pau Gasol, however, who led the Lakers in scoring in this game over the first two quarters. He finished the first half with 16.
After the break, though, Bryant continued to blitz the NBA opposition. He opened the stats for the Lakers with a defensive rebound, followed by a three-pointer and yet another three.
Thanks to Kobe, who had the hot hand for the Lakers in the third, Los Angeles raced out to a 20-10 lead in the quarter. As has been the case for much of the season, though, LA couldn’t maintain that pace. The score was 79-74, LA, at the end of three.
But, the Wolves came back from being 18 down and tied the game at 89 with about 5:27 left in the fourth. The Lakers eked out the win, 106-101, to make it 16 in a row over Minnesota.
But, the 13-time All-Star, five-time NBA champion and Shaquille O’Neal’s brother from another mother is showing no signs of becoming ho hum. The last and first time Bryant led the NBA in scoring was 2005-06, when he averaged 35.4 points per game.
He’s leading the league this season with a reportedly torn ligament in his wrist. Yet, with over 40,000 minutes played in his career, the 33-year-old is still cruising like a sea liner on the lake.
Still the big fish in the small pond, Bryant on Sunday night against the Timberwolves became the Lakers all-time leader in field goal attempts. Already the franchise’s leading scorer, he’s started his own club—Lakers with the most field-goal attempts and most points scored.
Now, let the debate begin anew about the best Laker ever. I’ll venture to say that if Bryant wins two more NBA championships, then he’ll widely be considered as the best Lakers shooting guard ever.
Bryant could even become the NBA logo. No disrespect to Jerry West, the dazzling Lloyd Daniels or the smashing "Smush" Parker.
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