“If you ever leave me baby, leave some morphine at my door. Cause it would take a whole lot of medication to realize what we used to have, we don’t have it anymore.” –Bruno Mars
It feels damn good to see you back. Even sweeter that you made your return on Christmas day.
When ABC aired your pre-recorded interview, you said something along the lines off “I could drop 40,50 if I wanted to. But now I’m a better facilitator, so expect me to do more of that today to set the tone for the shortened season. “
Back in the day you were able to drop 40 points at will, in 2003 you scored 40 or more points in nine consecutive games. But times are different now. This LeBron James guy is looking as unstoppable as ever. Your good friends Carmelo and Kevin Durant look like they’re better pure scorers than you do now, which they both displayed in their opening day games respectively.
It was an answer we’ve all heard before from the greatest two guard of our generation, but behind that newly grown beard of yours I could sense the doubt behind your words. That maybe, just maybe, your will is beginning to exceed your ability. The heart and mind are willing but the body won’t allow it anymore. To make matters worse, you landed awkwardly in a pre-season game on your wrist. We all assumed it was a minor injury…until you got it checked out…but torn ligament or not Kobe Bryant doesn’t miss basketball games.
You’ve tried to off-set father time by having mystery two surgeries in Hitler’s Germany. The first surgery appeared to work wonders, as you dropped 45 points on James Harden in a Drew League game.
Regardless, everyone from scribes to fans are predicting your Lakers are washed up; and at this point in your career you can’t lead them to a championship anymore. I know you hear them. They were whispering just a couple years ago, now they’re telling you to your face.
I believed in you this Christmas. Trust me Kobes, there are few people who believe in you more than I do despite the fact the Lakers habitually crap the bed on Christmas afternoons.
When 2 p.m. came around, my heart filled with joy. Lakers basketball was back, YOU were back. Just as quickly as that euphoric feeling arrived, it was erased after seeing the starting lineup of Fisher, yourself, Ebanks, McBob and Pau. Even Laker legend Magic Johnson joked at halftime that he doesn’t even know Ebanks’ first name. For the record Earvin, it’s Devin. He also claimed that with this supporting cast there is no way your boys are making a return to the finals any time soon; further fuelling the fire that Mitch needs to make a move for Dwight Howard asap.
As the game progressed, the giddiness gradually returned. It appeared the Lakers would be just fine. Pau was playing like last May never happened, and all the new additions (including METTA WORLD PEACE) were exceeding everyone’s expectations..
You went about business as usual, getting to your favourite spots before rising up for that silky jumper. You even got into the lane a couple times, something you were unable to do in the Dallas series last May.
But that’s before the roof caved in at STAPLES center.
This season began very similar to how the last one ended.
Rewind back to game one of the aforementioned Dallas series: Lakers are up 16 in the 3rd, cruising to a victory before Dallas made a run. With a minute left to play you hit a tough pull up over Jason Kidd to put your team up three points. At the other end Dirk connects on a fall-away free throw leaner, cutting the lead to one. All you guys had to do was in bound and make free throws to walk away with a 1-0 lead in the series. We all know what happened next, Pau tries to hand it off to you, you somehow slip and the Mavs regain possession. Thankfully they only make one of two at the line. With a chance to win the game, you have a clean look at a three pointer that hits back iron. And the rest as they say is history.
Very similarly, you guys were up 10 at one point in the second half against the Bulls. The door was left open again for a surprising comeback. Pau and McBob miss not one, not two, not three but FOUR consecutive free throws that definitely would’ve put the game out of reach with a minute left to play. No worries though, you were able to bail Laker Nation out again with a crafty baseline floater. Again, all you had to do was inbound and hit free throws, and you threw the ball away. Derrick Rose takes it the length of the court, gets Fish in an isolation situation and goes to work.
Coming out of the timeout with one last chance to salvage Christmas, Mike Tirico said “this is a story we’ve seen before with Kobe…”
His comment brought a smile to my face, knowing that you’ve delivered more clutch moments than Santa has delivered presents.
You drive past the initial defender before putting up a high arching floater reminiscent of the one you had at the end of regulation in-game four of the Phoenix series in 2006. The ball hangs in the air for two very long seconds before Deng recovers and swats it. Game. Set. Match.
Sure I was dejected that you couldn’t close another tight game. But what’s different this Christmas from all the other ones is that I’ve finally comes to grasps that a Christmas day game means the same as a snooze-fest in February against the Bobcats. In the past, I would’ve let it ruin my Christmas, allowing the result of your games to dictate the rest of my evening.
But as I grow up with you Mamba, I think we both realize there are things in life bigger than basketball (such as your divorce).The game merely serves as a bridge between all the shitty moments in life.
The LA Lakers are 0-1, but there will be a game tomorrow night in Sacramento. So I’ll see you there Kobes. Win or lose, it was splendid for you to drop by this Christmas. A present I would’ve never expected two months ago.
Your performance on the court may change, but our relationship stays the same. I promise.
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