When the Los Angeles Lakers held a Super Bowl party last February at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia, Chris Ballard, a Sports illustrated senior writer, wrote that everyone was there to relax and watched the game, except for one: Kobe Bryant. (article in Sports illustrated vault)
Kobe preferred to stay on a corner as his therapist worked on his limbs. With so many things to do and with so little time in Kobe’s world, the clock is always ticking.
LA has 16 NBA championships, and Kobe has five of the 16. At 33 years old, Kobe is relentlessly chasing his sixth championship. He would do anything to get another ring, even if he travels to Germany to pump new blood on his legs, even if it takes forever to get there. He would always try.
Their last outing was a blowout game against the Oklahoma City Thunders. It was a 29-point loss, although many believed that OKC would win the game, however, nobody thought that the Lakers would get humiliated. That is not what Kobe envisioned his team’s direction to be in the second round of the playoffs.
LA, as a franchise, has only won two out of 17 in losing the first two games of a best-of-7-series, and Game 2 would be a crucial game for them.
Losing to the Dallas Mavericks last year was a realization that brought Kobe to think that his playing days are nearing to an end. His arthritic knee has become seemingly impossible to repair. He couldn’t move without experiencing unbearable pain, and most of all, he couldn’t deliver when his team needed him to. His experimental platelet-rich plasma therapy in Germany gave him a second chance and an opportunity for another championship run, and that is why losing to OKC was never an option.
The turnover-prone OKC had only four in the game, and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 25 and 27 points respectively. The Lakers need to defend the pick and roll more to close the gap. They need to use their size and impose it more. For Kobe, the team needs to play good defense.
Offense wins games, but defense gives you championships.
This is not the time to push the panic button, although the Lakers are having multiple blowouts throughout the season. However, this would be the first time they were convincingly defeated.
Kobe knows they need to bounce back. They need Game 2 more than ever. It’s not going to be about how the franchise struggled after being down two games, and it’s not going to be about leveling the series when they are playing at home. This is all about knowing if they ever get a chance against OKC.
So many things to do, yet so little time.
Kobe’s clock is ticking.
One championship left before basketball immortality.