Whatever the permutation, the Los Angeles Lakers always seemed to rank amongst the NBA’s top squads when it comes to fielding unique outfits that we’re at a loss with when it comes to predicting how a season will turn out. There is a solid possibility that Carlos Boozer could return to offensive form with Los Angeles next season, that rookie Julius Randle could show signs of acting like the next Lamar Odom, Linsanity could rise again in El Lay, and gunner Nick Young could come into his own and recognize that there are other aspects to the game of NBA basketball besides chuckin’ away. New coach Byron Scott, even, could make a difference with his vocal defensive bluster and Princeton-y offense.
Once again, though, the team’s fortunes will come down to the relative health of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Two players that were drafted into the NBA before Bill Clinton was even elected to a second term as president, and two Lakers that missed a combined 143 games in 2013-14 with an assortment of injuries that are usually rare to NBA players. Injuries that could probably be pegged on the duo’s massive workload as the leader for a series of championship contenders dating back a decade and a half.
Longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti sat down with Mike Trudell of the Lakers’ official website last week to give a reasonably positive update and the status of the two, and while it might not sign off on allowing us to predict that the duo will return to MVP form, things are at least looking better than they did last summer. Or fall. Or winter. Or spring.
From Trudell’s interview, which is a must-read beyond the Kobe and Nash discussions:
MT: Kobe is of course coming off the left Achilles tear on April 12, 2013, and the small knee fracture on Dec. 17, 2013, both of which have completely healed. Bryant said at his camp in Santa Barbara that he’s fully healthy and weighs 215 pounds, his typical playing weight in January. It’s pretty tough, for me at least having been around him since 2008, to bet against him.
Vitti: You’d be crazy to bet against him.
Kobe is doing everything right.
You said something about not wanting to bet against him, but I would like you to do that, publicly. Not that he needs any more motivation. Kobe Bryant is a brilliant basketball player. Kobe Bryant is a great athlete, but there were actually players that were more athletic than Kobe. So why him? It's in his mind and his heart and soul. He just has something about him that most people don't. No matter what you think of Kobe Bryant, he's extremely athletic, extremely talented, works harder than anyone else, is tough as nails and intellectually brilliant. You can't take those five things away from him. When you put them all together, you end up with a very, very successful person. Now, it comes with ‘stuff,’ and he'll be the first one to admit it, but wouldn't you rather have a guy that has those five things and deal with the ‘stuff’ than have a guy that doesn't have any ‘stuff’ but you’re trying to instill one of those five things in him. I'll take the dude with the five things.
The dude also has five rings. I’ll take that guy, too.
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