Kobe Bryant insists he’s mentally prepared for potentially trying season ahead
Kobe Bryant is staring down the barrel of what in all likelihood will be a disastrous season for the Los Angeles Lakers. But to hear it from him, Kobe will rely on his experience, the teachings that have been instilled in him as well as his mental toughness to make it through a potentially trying 2013-14 NBA season.
In a lengthy and interesting piece, USA Today Sports’ Sam Amick breaks down — and questions — whether or not a highly competitive person like Kobe who is (relatively) used to winning will be able to tolerate for long the kind of blowout losses for long that the Lakers already have experienced this season. In its first two games, the Lakers have suffered an 18-point loss to Rockets and a 20-point loss to Suns.
Kobe insists, despite the trials and tribulations of dealing with an inexperienced and arguably under-talented roster, he’ll just have to turn the page every night, no matter the outcome.
“Go on to the next night,” Bryant said following the loss to the Suns on Wednesday. “Go to the next night. That’s it.”
And things won’t be easy from the onset. Amick notes that in the team’s first 17 games, the Lakers will play only four games against teams that had losing records last season, an executioner’s row of sorts for a team already taking its first steps and stumbles up to the gallows.
Bryant says he takes it as a personal challenge and his responsibility to be a mentor for his teammates. He credits the ability to remain patient to the mentors who guided him early in his career. And he does not see it as a daunting task at all.
“Not even a little bit,” Kobe contended. “I’ve seen it all man. I’ve seen it all before. I’m good. I’ve been trained very well.
“Coming back, the beauty was in the process. So the fun part for me, the most fun part, is over. I know where I’m at now. Now it’s just everybody’s seeing (that he’s himself). But the fun part for me is over in terms of the comeback. Now the challenges become turning Jeremy into a championship point guard, a floor general, right? And the rest of the guys having a championship spirit. That’s the challenge.”
The training Bryant mentions is in reference to his ‘Yodas,” specifically the “Zen Master” himself, Phil Jackson.
“I’ve been trained really well by the Yodas of the world, and they’ve always talked about just looking at the game, looking at things you can correct, and then the next day correcting them,” Bryant said. “Simple as that. We’re not as bad as this first two games. We’re not. So it’s just about correcting these things.”
Accomplishing that task will be easier said than done. A team that already was projected by experts to likely finish in the bottom four or five in the ultra-competitive Western Conference were dealt a devastating blow on opening night when Julius Randle suffered a fractured tibia, likely losing the talented-but-raw rookie for the entire season.
Unless Lakers can somehow surprisingly transform into a semi-competitive team sooner rather than later — a daunting, challenging and unlikely proposition — it will be interesting to see how long Kobe will be able to rely on his training and experience and the other qualities he insists will help him face the daunting road ahead before all the losing finally cracks his reputed iron and blurs his steely-eyed determination and the weight of crushing ineptitude breaks his spirit.
Bryant already has made his teammates feel somewhat awkward with his brazen, hostile and profane trash talking of Dwight Howard on opening night. How long before Bryant directs that ire at them?