Kobe made himself available to the press prior to the game, and reporters were mainly focused on two topics: his recovery from injury and his relationship with Howard.
When addressing Howard, Kobe showed the dual nature of his personality. First, he held court with a routine straight out of "Kobe Comedy Jam":
TTYL "@mcten: Sarcastic Kobe on Dwight: "Have I spoken to him? We speak every day""— Beto Duran (@DuranSports) November 8, 2013
Kobe on the Clippers fans booing Dwight: "They are undercover."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) November 8, 2013
Dishing out crow to both Dwight Howard and the L.A. Clippers is relatively easy for Kobe right now. After all, the up-and-down Lakers have beaten both already during this short season.
Then, he turned serious—and surprisingly effusive—in his praise of Dwight:
Earnest Kobe on Dwight: "I think he'll have a great year."— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 8, 2013
Kobe on D12: "He always wants to compete w/ the all-time greats -- the Chamberlains, the Shaqs, the Olajuwons -- this year ...— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 8, 2013
Kobe on D12 continued: "... Should be the year when he can start putting up those types of numbers - 25-26 pts a game"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 8, 2013
Despite all the rancorous chatter from the past year, one never gets the sense that Kobe and Dwight hated each other; they just didn't see eye-to-eye about basketball or personal mission statements. And it annoyed the hell out of each, something they've been quick to share with the world.
Of course, Kobe knows his fans don't want the Mamba talking to the press without a healthy helping of injury updates, and Kobe was happy to oblige:
Kobe just spoke to the media. He says his last week of rehab involved much more sprinting, but no cutting/lateral moves yet— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 8, 2013
Lakers guard @KobeBryant said pre-game he is ramping up his workouts doing 2 to 3 per day, but still does not have a practice day in sight.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) November 8, 2013
While some take these updates as "setbacks," keep in mind that Kobe's preseason outlook was so far ahead of schedule, these seeming slowdowns are really just regressions to the norm. He's recovering from a serious injury and doing so as fast as he can.
He even went so far as to help his fans with some weight loss tips, Kobe style:
Kobe on losing 5 pounds: "When you eat a lot of BS, drink a lot of water, piss it all out, then you start doing activity..."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) November 8, 2013
Kobe..."I tend to lose weight pretty quickly."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) November 8, 2013
Laker fans were interested in this cryptic Kobe tweet:
And Kobe helped clear things up:
Kobe confirmed that his #blackout hashtag was in reference to his workout regiment he teaches at his camp— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) November 8, 2013
Black Mamba's resolve is incredible—he's running, eating, pissing and fighting bears with a purpose, like a man possessed. It seems to be only a matter of time before we see him on the court again.
Fortunately, Social Media Era Mamba is allowing us to come along for the ride. In some ways, even while temporarily out of the game, Kobe Bryant has never been more engaging or interesting.