The Los Angeles Lakers are off to a slow start to the 2014-15 season, but it won’t deter Kobe Bryant‘s commitment to the team where has played his entire career, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.
“I hear the chatter of Kobe should ask out and he should go and play for a contender in this latter stage of his career,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports. “But that’s not what I do. I’m extremely loyal to the Lakers.
“I believe in fighting through the tough times as well as enjoying the good times. It’s my responsibility to get us to be the best that we can be. It’s important that we approach that on a day-to-day basis.”
It has been a rough first four games of the season for the Lakers, which they have lost each game by allowing the league-worst in opponent points per game (118.0), and field goal percentage (.505).
Los Angeles has also been hit hard with the injury bug with a handful of players sidlelined highlighted by Steve Nash (back) and Julius Randle (leg) both being declared out for the entire season. The team will also be without Nick Young for a couple more weeks due to his surgically repaired thumb, and Ryan Kelly is still dealing with lingering hamstring issues.
This is coupled with the struggles from key newcomers on the team such as Carlos Boozer, who is averaging just 9.8 points, and 5.5 rebounds in 25.8 minutes played per game. Jeremy Lin has had significant trouble performing with consistency in head coach Byron Scott‘s system, and playing alongside Bryant.
This all comes after a mostly empty free agency period that the team missed on the two big name players in Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. Anthony elected to re-sign with the New York Knicks on a five-year deal worth $124 million. James decided to head back to Cleveland to play with the Cavaliers. Finally, Pau Gasol chose to sign with the Chicago Bulls instead of staying with the Lakers.
Despite all that, Bryant was satisfied with organization’s efforts in the offseason because he felt that they did “absolutely everything possible” to try to improve the team.
“It was really tough to land those free agents just because of the opportunities that they had,” Bryant said. “You got ‘Melo going back to New York, LeBron going back home to Cleveland. The odds just weren’t in our favor. But I took comfort in the fact that the Lakers did absolutely everything possible to make it happen. Absolutely everything possible.
“We offered Pau an incredible deal. I saw them put the work in. It’s much different than in 2007 when I felt like they were just sitting on their hands. This is not that case. They were going after it and being aggressive. I will fight for that till the end. They tried, tried and tried and it didn’t work out. I stand behind them 110 percent. I bleed purple and gold.”
If there is one positive thing that Bryant and the Lakers can be encouraged about after a disappointing opening week, it was the play of the 36-year-old, who is averaging 24.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game.
His body appears to be more than ready to handle the rigors of an entire NBA season, especially after he was able to throw down a reverse dunk in Friday’s 114-108 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers that was even shocked him.
What has also been telling of his health has been his ability to dictate for the most part which areas of the floor he is going to take his shots. Bryant has made numerous shots of his patent fadeaway jumper, and has shown that he can still get to the rim and draw contact for fouls when needed. It has been an arduous process for Bryant to get back to top form after two serious knee injuries that he feels that he has done “everything physically possible.”
Bryant also realizes that it has been hard for Lakers fans to watch the team this season, but he has faith that they will be able to turn it around with the franchise’s history being evident of that.
“You have to understand there is nothing you can do with what’s transpired,” Bryant said. “You have to move on to tomorrow. Right? You have to. Kicking and screaming is not going to do anything.
“Lakers fans know it’s a process. Things can turn pretty quickly. We’ve seen it there before. If there is anything we’re relying on, we’re relying on our history, what we’ve been able to accomplish and how quickly we are able to turn things around.”
The Lakers will need Bryant to be at the forefront of it all, and by what he has shown so far this season gives the impression that he is more than capable of accomplishing that task in his 19th season in the NBA.
Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea – USA TODAY Sports