There are only nine games left for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, and the question on every Laker fan's mind is:
Is it time to start resting Kobe Bryant for the big finish?
I thought about it for a while weighing the benefits of both courses of action, and realized that the correct answer may not be the most obvious one. When it comes to resting important players, it's usually a good idea. The odds are that this star player has been carrying a large bulk of the load all season long now, and it wouldn't be a terrible thing for him to catch a breather. If you add to that a record like the one the Lakers have, it may seem obvious that this star should sit out a while. I feel like this couldn't be more wrong for Kobe Bryant however, and here's why.
The first thing you have to think about is the Lakers' current record. It's deceptive because while being good, the Lakers are still trying to fend off the Mavericks for the second playoff spot, and could also possibly overtake the Spurs for the number one spot in the West. No one thought the Lake show would have a chance at the top honors this year, but with the Spurs slipping like they have been lately, anything is possible with nine games still left on the schedule. If you look to the Eastern Conference, the Lakers still have to work hard in order to ensure home-court advantage no matter what should they hope to make the finals this year.
If you start resting Kobe Bryant now, maybe nothing will happen. Maybe the Lakers will band together and allow Kobe to get some much needed rest. They may also tank a few straight games, risk losing home court against the East, and could slip to the third spot in the West. I'm not sure what Dr. Buss has in mind, but that's not something I would want to risk with the Lakers on a roll like they are. You can certainly shave a few minutes off his nightly assignment, but in no way, shape or form should they sit him.
Should Kobe rest up?
Now you're thinking I'm crazy, right?
Don't I know how injured and tired and yadda yadda Kobe Bryant is? Of course I do, people. But Kobe Bryant is not your average player. Most "professional athletes" sit out if they have a stomach-ache. Kobe plays with fractures, sprains, pains, bruises, the flu and on down the list. The Lakers have plenty of home cooking left in their schedule before the playoffs, and Kobe will be on the mend the entire time. The one thing that Kobe has made me certain of is that he can take care of himself. This being the case, I'm not worried.
And now, the most important reason not to bench the Black Mamba—the dude is on a roll!
If you have seen a Laker game recently, you would know that Kobe has already flipped the switch to "playoff-mode." He is becoming much more aggressive and taking the offense into his own hands early and often. Once Kobe has flipped the switch, it's best not to mess with him. He's officially in another state of mind, and bothering that could jeopardize everything. The Laker squad needs him the way he is now so they can be assured he will close games out when they matter the most. One thing is for sure, if you rest Kobe now, you never know how he will come back in the postseason.
There is always a chance that none of these things would happen, and Kobe would return fully charged with the same great mindset. The Lakers could close out the season well, getting enough wins to keep the second seed, or even grab top Western honors. Kobe's ailments could heal nicely, allowing him more lift on his shot and speed in his step. I'm aware that all of this is possible, and more.
But let me ask you this: Why risk it?
He looks good to go, in my opinion, so keep him on a roll. The playoffs are right around the corner now, and the Black Mamba needs to stay on the court in order to hit the postseason running.