The Lakers have taken it to some of the top teams in the West over the past 11 days and have gone 4-0 with Bryant injured and on the bench.
Wins over Portland, Utah, San Antonio, and Golden State are giving the rest of the league an idea of just how talented the defending champs truly are. Of those four teams, only the Warriors aren't in a position to make it to the postseason.
Kobe's injury may be just what Dr. Buss ordered.
Each win without him is bolstering the rest of the Lakers' confidence as they realize that they are deservedly one of the best teams in the NBA, with or without Bryant.
Maybe winning without Bryant shouldn't come as much of a surprise after all.
Maybe, just maybe, Bryant's presence in the lineup is a double-edged sword that hurts as much as it helps. Sure, he can light up the scoreboard, hit the clutch shot, and can carry the team almost every night he's suited up.
But at what expense?
While Bryant is racking up points and hitting buzzer-beaters, are his teammates reaching their potential or are they just spectators with uniforms?
Bryant is at that pivotal point in his career where he needs to be able to elevate those around him. He's doing that right now, injured and in street clothes on the bench, but what about when he's on the floor?
None of this is news. Every truly great NBA player has had to come to the realization that in order to reach the pinnacle of the game, it takes a team effort, not just an individual one.
As much as Lakers fans cringe when Bryant pulls up limping or grasps his hand in pain, this ankle injury may be just what puts the Lakers in the mindset to win it all again.
Don't shake your head, LeBron.