When the Lakers are return home to play the Sacramento Kings Sunday night, Kobe Bryant’s involvement will depend on how much his ankle has recovered over the past two nights.
But the couple of extra days of treatment he's had will likely lead to the competitive nature of the Lakers all-time great taking over once again.
If Bryant starts, he would preserve his perfect regular season streak of starts in his 17th season as a professional. Considering no other Laker has been able to accompany him onto the floor through all 67 games, hats off to the 34-year-old.
After reminding reporters that his off-season conditioning is essential to his in-season stamina, Bryant has consistently shared a new secret to his success this season.
“I think diet has a lot to do with it, to be honest,” Bryant said after playing nearly 44 minutes in the incredible overtime win over the Toronto Raptors. “I think [diet] has really impacted my energy level.”
Off-season conditioning has been a staple of the KB24 path to success for some time, but he credits his new eating habits as this season’s magic ingredient—not the knee treatments in Germany.
As long as this ankle heals, fatigue does not appear to be a concern for the supremely driven Lakers star.
Regardless of whether Bryant starts on Sunday, the Lakers need to continue their tough play from Friday night at Indiana. The Lakers recorded their best road win of the season, and Steve Blake was a major component of that. His scrappy spirit spread to his teammates on the defensive end, and his ball movement, distribution, and shot-making balanced the Lakers’ offense.
The “spirit of the team” that Steve Nash routinely talks about was glowing in Indiana. And a great deal of that spirit came from an unlikely face on the bench—Bryant. The guy who has started every game this season was the best bench player the Lakers have had this season. Bryant worked with the team in nearly every timeout and helped coach pick-and-roll defenses in the huddle.
Bryant wasn’t the only injured Laker working the sidelines; Pau Gasol was also coaching during the game. Gasol was providing Dwight Howard with tips and instructions on avoiding fouls in between whistles.
The Lakers are coming together as a single unit at the crucial point in their season. Sunday night is not about the 23-43 Sacramento Kings, who have beaten the Lakers in one of two meetings this regular season; it is about Los Angeles continuing to build on team spirit and playing as one unit focused on a one goal.
Inside the locker room, the Lakers still have championship aspirations, so Sunday is about showing and solidifying that championship spirit—not sorry Sacramento.