So the return is finally here. Today is the day that the Los Angeles Lakers will finally welcome back Kobe Bryant into the fold.
Nearly eight months ago, there was uncertainty and much doubt regarding the future hall of famer — but all of that ends today. No matter if he plays 10 minutes, no matter if he plays 40 minutes. It all still ends.
On that front, we do know a little though. According to Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, Kobe’s minutes will be limited at first. Tonight, he is slated to play “somewhere in the 20’s”.
D’Antoni on Kobe’s minutes tomorrow: “Somewhere in the 20s, but not more than that.” No strict limitations, “we’ll just watch it.”
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 7, 2013
So what should we expect in those limited 20 minutes?
“He’s not going to be above the rim for a while, which is fine,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said Saturday. “There’s been great players that have played below the rim. He’ll have to do that for a little bit.”
He averaged 27.3 points and six assists last season. Can he come close to those numbers this season?
“I think so,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t think right at the start, but I’d give him a month and he should be back to those numbers.”
More importantly, what will his impact be on his teammates? That’s the key.
“[Bryant is] a big piece. You throw that boulder in the water, there’s going to be some ripples,” D’Antoni said. “People have to adjust to it and some people’s minutes will be adjusted.”
In Texas, entire cities close for Friday night high school football. Tonight, an entire nation will close. To sit and watch the most anticipated comeback in quite some time. The reaction will be major, it may even shutdown Twitter.
He may not look like The Black Mamba right away, but we should be grateful — even if we aren’t Kobe fans. We’re watching history. Embrace it, enjoy it, and most of all, note it.
Welcome back, 24.