Plenty of people crack jokes about Kobe’s work ethic and refusal to yield to bodily limits. They say he’s insane, ageless and an enemy of Father Time. Some even say he’s a flat-out Alien. Among them is Hall of Famer James Worthy.
“Kobe is not a human being,” Worthy said, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. “He’s an alien. I think he will come back and play well.”
Who am I to question one of the greatest Los Angeles Lakers there ever was? If Worthy says Kobe’s an alien, then he’s an alien.
Planet Krypton alien? Man-eating alien? Tentacle-sporting alien? Little green, egg-shaped alien masquerading as an offensive savvy shooting guard? I’ll let you decide. Point is, he’s from out of this world. And that means he’s going to “come back and play well.” That’s all he’s ever done. Let’s not expect it to change now, even if he’s 35. Age is but a number, especially for an extraterrestrial like Kobe, am I right?
In all seriousness, when we think of Kobe we think of borderline immortality. We know he can bleed, but he’s never fallen. Not completely. He bows only to himself, not pain. That sensation has always been temporary; it’s always been beatable. And Worthy seems to believe that defying the odds is still a manageable task for the 17-year veteran.
Normally, I’d agree with him. Kobe’s career reads like a novel of defiance. And championships. And big men not named Pau Gasol who couldn’t cut it next to him. All his updates have spoken of “progress” and, in some cases, shattered timetables. It’s not farfetched to believe he can come back from this.
But as training camp nears, we’re still in the dark as to what his timetable may be. Will he be ready for opening day? Soon after? A month later? Maybe two? Despite progressing in his rehabilitation, the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan writes that Kobe is expected to miss the entire preseason. Lakers spokesman John Black also told him they’re going to avoid a target return date for the time being.
“We’re going to avoid giving a target return date until he’s doing full weight-bearing running and on-court basketball activities, at the earliest,” Black said.
Hardly encouraging if you ask me. In fact, I’d say it’s the least encouraging news we’ve gotten since the actual diagnosis. Prevailing narratives have been built around his ability to return for opening night. Los Angeles’ preseason ends October 25, and its regular season begins just days later on October 29. There appears to be a very real possibility that Kobe isn’t ready.
While we must not let his return date (completely) shape his subsequent ceiling, it would be just plain odd not to him out there. Like really weird. Ominous, even.
This whole time, I’ve maintained he plays. I’m sticking to that. No inside information has been provided to me; just a gut feeling. And a blind belief in Worthy’s assessment of No. 24. Most days, he doesn’t seem human. He also doesn’t seem like a UFO-commandeering, Kermit the Frog-colored creature either. But that’s neither he nor there.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.