Kobe Bryant doesn't need his owner being the first person to publicly set a timetable vastly ahead of the typical recovery period for his injury. He already has a myriad of external and internal factors at play pushing him to get back onto the court after his Achilles setback.
However, players don't always get what they need from their owners, and in this case, Jim Buss is doing Kobe Bryant no favors.
Well, we're in Vegas, and I would bet a lot of money that this guy comes back probably in preseason. He's real sharp in taking care of himself and he's not going to rush anything just to get back and prove a point. He's going to come back when he's right. He's a machine. He's inhuman. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season. I can't believe how much he's progressed so far.
Of course, there's a good chance you've already seen that quote, since it is getting major play at every sports outlet. And therein lies the problem.
There is far more to be lost than gained for the Lakers by putting this out there now.
I can understand the desire for Buss to say something like this. The Lakers haven't exactly been building a lot of momentum this offseason after watching Dwight Howard take less money to sign with the Houston Rockets.
Combine that with the fact that Kobe's injury was supposed to keep him out at least until mid-October, and it is hard for the perception surrounding next year's Lakers to be filled with anything but gloom.
So, Buss can gain a sense of positive momentum by saying his team's star player will be back on the court in the preseason, and keep the profile on this storied franchise high.
However, while this gets fans buzzing about the amazing Kobe Bryant for a bit, it's not like people are now rushing out to bet on the Lakers to win the finals next year. For starters, in an 82-game season, it isn't how a team starts the year, but how it finishes it.
Secondly, this tweet by ESPN overshadows anything that is happening for the Lakers' chances next season:
So, back to my point: Why would Buss say this?
There is no reason to publicly put this expectation on Bryant. Let's just say Bryant isn't ready to go by the preseason. People will now begin to wonder what kind of setback Bryant has had, when in reality, the 34-year-old will still be in the typical recovery timeline.
The other big factor here is that this is Kobe Bryant we are talking about. He is one of the sport's all-time great competitors and has competed through a laundry list of injuries. His drive to get back on the court is legendary.
Having the preseason target date in the public is only going to put Bryant in jeopardy of coming back too soon, which will increase his chances of suffering another injury.
Buss took the time in his comments to note that Bryant isn't going to "rush anything...and prove a point." Really, Buss? Really?
Has the Lakers owner been watching the same Kobe Bryant the rest of us have? We are talking about a player who makes proving points a main source of motivation.
Bryant has played countless games when he wasn't right. He's played nearly a whole season with damaged index finger on his shooting hand that was aided by a splint. Bryant has a different definition of "right" than most.
Bryant hasn't done this recklessly. He's done this because he figures he can make himself rise above his injuries.
It is that mentality which has helped push him to his amazing greatness, and it is that mentality that the Lakers should be guarded against now. Instead, Buss needlessly added another reason for Bryant to get back on the court quickly.
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