If you’ve been hiding under a rock all day, then you have no idea when Kobe Bryant will return. If you haven’t, then you have most likely seen the two minute video of Kobe’s jersey blowing through weather, which somehow means he will be playing Sunday.
So with Kobe coming back on Sunday, the Lakers will get a boost, but some players will lose their minutes. Mike D’Antoni will also have to adjust his coaching, and Kobe will have to play in the flow of the offense. Either way, Bryant will play Sunday against the Raptors, and that will be the hot topic in the NBA for a while.
So what does D’Antoni think of Kobe’s return, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA, he has high expectations for the living legend:
“I’d probably be saying, ‘What took him so long?’” D’Antoni joked before the Lakers played the Sacramento Kings on Friday. “No, I think it’s terrific. Obviously he feels good about it and we’ll see going forward, but this is good news.”
“He’ll be a dominant player,” D’Antoni said. “He can play any way. He can play below the rim, above the rim, beside the rim. I mean, the guy can play any way. He’ll figure out how he’ll be effective and then he’ll come at you with everything he’s got. That’s been his M.O. and I think that’s what he’ll do.”
Clearly, D’Antoni is being positive, and that’s how it should be. As for him being dominant, no one knows, but if anyone can off of this injury, Kobe can.
So what about the guys who will be losing some minutes? They seem excited about his return:
“I didn’t have no guess, but I’m glad it’s Sunday,” Henry said. “I’m glad he comes back and we’ll see how everything goes.”
D’Antoni said he had yet to watch Bryant’s announcement video and he wasn’t the only one on the team in that boat. Nick Young watched it for the first time on a reporter’s iPhone in the locker room before the game with Jodie Meeks and Jordan Hill peering over his shoulder at the screen.
“To hear he’s coming back, it’s definitely a positive influence for everybody,” said Meeks, who Bryant could replace at shooting guard in the starting lineup. “We want to win this game tonight and Sunday will be a tough game, but with him back, we will play with a lot of confidence.”
So, Kobe will probably be limited, but it will be good to see him out there. You would have to imagine that Kobe will be on a minutes restriction, but D’Antoni wasn’t willing to comment on that:
“I’ll talk to [Lakers trainer] Gary [Vitti] about that and Gary will talk to Kobe and we’ll try to figure it out,” D’Antoni said. “A little bit of it will be he’ll just have to go ‘I need a blow,’ and we’ll try to figure out the best way [to limit his minutes]. I don’t think we know. We’ll have a game plan, but he’ll adjust to it as he feels what he feels his body can do.”
The moment we’ve all been waiting for will finally come on Sunday night.