Written By: Graham Brunell
On a rather chilly Wednesday night in Boston, Kobe Bryant erupted across the coast, single-handedly demolishing a shaky Chicago team. With a scattered effort from the Bulls team, there wasn't much of an individual weapon to counter Kobe's usual merciless play.
The future HoF shooting guard dropped a bomb on Chi-Town, 42 points, during a game where he played with a broken finger. Bryant carried a (temporarily) lax LA team to victory, as the Lakers squad sat back and watched just another miracle produced by this era's Showtime superstar.
But is there more meaning to the spectacular performance? Could Bryant be sending a vindictive message to all those who vow to draw first blood this season, particularly --*gasp* -- Boston? While Bryant won his fifth ring, and quite possibly his first with him as the clearcut leader, there's no doubt the sweet revenge would have been more savory had he taken down the Celts, a team that strangled his dreams of beating the very crew he'd probably had his sights on for a while.
There's no doubt that Bryant's dying thirst for a championship won't be quenched until the legend hangs up the laces. Regardless, the show he put on display Tuesday night didn't fall short of expectations; rather, they exceeded them, and by great lengths. The resilience and staunch "you can't beat me" attitude was at its premier stage when playing Chicago, and there's no doubt that Bryant has the taste of the Larry O'Brien trophy still fresh in his mouth, eager not to let go.
Although despite Bryant not willing to give up last year's accomplishments and move onto this year's endeavors, there isn't any questioning that Bryant's memory is stale. He wants another one, and will do anything to do it.
On the other hand, Bryant certainly has some teammates behind him. The concern is, will he use them? Of course we're all aware of Bryant's capability of exploding at any given moment, specifically when he chooses to or feels it to be necessary, but as Bryant gets older, will he adapt to not being able to do as much? Let's make a comparison: I recently said that one of Celtics' point guard Rajon Rondo's best talents is his ability to play within himself. As #24 ages, can he handle not being able to streak by the lanky guards, the quick forwards, the strong defenders? Bryant just turned 31; compare that to Kevin Durant's 21, LeBron James' 24, and Dwyane Wade's 27. That's not even getting into the Carmelo Anthony's, the Luol Deng's, or the Rudy Gay's of the game.
While Bryant chooses not to involve teammates sometimes, there's going to be situations where he just won't be quick enough to breach and conquer from the perimeter. And luckily for Bryant, he's recognizing that much earlier than most. North Station Sports' Nicholas Gelso pointed out, "Bryant has been posting up WAY more this season." To support that, check out this stat -- Bryant already has a noticeably higher FG% than the past two years. In addition, looking at the month of November, Bryant took very little threes compared to some of his numbers in the prime of his career. In one game, Bryant even scored 29 points without launching a three-pointer.
Pretty impressive, no?
It's clear that Bryant's intelligence and wisdom will overcome his Allen Iverson-esque instinct, meaning Bryant is hell-bent on dismantling the opposing team by himself. With threats around him and amore team-oriented mindset, Bryant seems to be heading for one of his most monumental seasons yet in terms of realizations and compliance and adjustment with change.
Obviously though, Bryant can calm the troops and finish the job himself. In the match Tuesday, Bryant's teammates scored a total of 54 points beside his 42, to tally a final of 92 points. The highest game scorer behind Bryant was Andrew Bynum.