A day after completing a highly anticipated return, Kobe Bryant turned up at Los Angeles Lakers practice on Monday.
Less than 24 hours after giving himself an “F” grade, Bryant upgraded his performance from an “F” to a “D”.
“In terms of a floor game, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was,” Bryant said after practice.
He revealed that he was up until 2 am watching game film, and the process and work was beginning to show on his face. Gone was the enthusiastic energy Bryant displayed on the podium Sunday night after the loss. Instead, he was far more serious even when speaking on some rather light topics.
“I’m more Darth Vader than I am Luke Skywalker,” Bryant said at one point when asked about the introduction music that was played when he was introduced at Staples Center. However, he was not showing nearly as much emotion as he had on the night of his return. Perhaps, that was due to the late night watching film.
When talk turned to basketball on the floor and chemistry, no. 24 laughed off the thought that his team would have problems integrating him into the group.
“Chemistry will be fine,” Bryant said dismissively. “Guys know how to play with me. It’ll be fine.”
This season, the Lakers have been one of the most balanced teams in the league, and even the loss to Toronto featured five Lakers scoring in double figures. The fear of Bryant’s return is that the team will forget to play with balance and will instead watch Bryant take over in a one-on-five fashion.
To his credit, Bryant’s mistakes on Sunday were not of a selfish ball-hog who was shooting too much. Bryant committed eight turnovers against the Raptors mainly due to over-passing or bad-passing. As long as Bryant keeps his eyes open and teammates involved, chemistry should not be an issue.
Still, the process will take time.