"He plays every game like it's his last game," Los Angeles Lakers' coach Byron Scott said late Tuesday night.
Scott, obviously, was talking about a 36-year-old Kobe Bryant, who had just played over 44 minutes, scored 39 points, jumped over the a row of fans, pulled down nine rebounds and seemingly sacrificed his body on the Staples Center court to get the Lakers their first win of the season. Only, the Lakers didn't win.
The Phoenix Suns beat the Lakers 112-106, as even Bryant's time-stopping heroics could not earn a victory for the purple and gold. The Lakers fell to 0-5, and frustration was visible on players' faces and in Bryant's speech after the game.
"Just get a damn win," Bryant responded after the game when asked what his message was to the team.
"I hope they understand the relentlessness that you have to play with," Bryant attempted to put his competitive spirit into words. "I'll go out there and I’ll leave it on the floor, everything. Compete and be relentless."
Watching Bryant play on Tuesday night, no one could doubt that this 36-year-old was trying harder than anyone else on the court. Bryant cared more. He wanted it more.
"He’s going to do whatever he thinks he has to do for us to win a game," Scott summed up almost too perfectly.
Playing his fifth game in seven nights and coming off an Achilles injury and a fracture in his knee, the 36-year-old played with ferocity, aggression, energy and recklessness that a player half his age would have trouble conjuring.
"Whether I can shoulder the load and these minutes consistently? Probably not," Bryant said after the game. "But every now and then, it will be necessary."
On Tuesday night, it was necessary, but even a 39-point super human performance could not provide the Lakers their first win of the season.
Notes: Kobe Bryant registered 37 shot attempts on Tuesday night. The last time Bryant launched 37 or more field goal attempts was in the Lakers' overtime win over the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 22, 2012. The last time Bryant attempted 37 or more field goals in a regulation game was Jan. 8, 2010 against the Portland Trail Blazers.