It has been a frustrating season for both Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, it could be argued that it has been even more than frustrating. An unmitigated disaster might be a better way to describe it.
An 18-33 record more than halfway through the schedule was not what the Lakers envisioned heading into the season. Injuries have decimated the Lakers roster, namely the most recent one to Kobe Bryant.
Only six games into his long-anticipated comeback from the Achilles injury he suffered last season, Kobe once again was put on the shelf with a left knee injury and has been out since Dec. 17.
Whether it is the increasing frustration of not being able to play or his aversion to horseplay and teammates not taking things seriously, Kobe chastised Chris Kaman for his antics last week when the big man stretched out on the bench after fouling out during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. An obscure NBA rule allowed the Lakers to compete with the Cavs 5-on-5 after only four players were available for the team during the game due to a combination of injuries and players fouling out.
This dearth of bodies on the bench afforded Kaman plenty of room to lay down and relax, an act Kobe clearly did not appreciate or look upon fondly, ripping his teammate while addressing what it’s like for him to watch helplessly from the sidelines.
“The last week’s been horrible,” Bryant told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “That Cleveland game, it was crazy. And then [Chris] Kaman goes to sleep on the bench, it’s like when big brother is not around, you start doing crazy [stuff]. So, it’s been rough. It’s been rough. But I’ve been just riding the bike, trying to stay active, stay in shape, spend a lot of time with my family — which really helps to kind of balance it out. But I hate not being there with the guys and watching them going through that period that they’re going through. It’s very, very tough. I just try to be patient.”
Bryant nevertheless insists that he fully intends to play again this season.
“My plan hasn’t changed,” Bryant said. “I’m just going about it every single day just trying to get better. That’s my job. My job is to get my butt back out there on the court when I’m healthy enough to play and that hasn’t changed.”
Kobe reportedly is scheduled to be re-evaluated after All-Star Weekend but refused to speculate when commenting upon when he expects to return.
“That I don’t know,” Bryant said. “It’s completely out of my control. I really got to sit here and just wait until this thing heals up and then go out there and do what I do.”‘
Until then, it looks like Kobe has one thing in mind: Whip his Lakers teammates into shape. To borrow the imagery from Kobe’s description, “Big Brother is Watching You.” Especially Chris Kaman.