Kobe Bryant has spoken of the explosion that he’ll likely lose when coming back from his Achilles injury, however, the Black Mamba still plans to play at a high level.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, Bryant is planning to emulate the games of Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird – among others – during his post-Achilles surgery career:
[pullquote]“It’s being able to facilitate and score when the defense dictates it, so it’s no difference,” Bryant said. “I’d be more of the push man, obviously, just getting up and down. But, honestly it’s no difference than how I played my entire career, really. Just handling the ball, getting us into stuff and pushing it.”
Embracing being a distributor when he returns this season goes hand in hand with Bryant’s own expectations for where his game will be if he is stripped of the athleticism he’s always featured as part of his game. Bryant went as far as to offer up the names of four below-the-rim point guards in Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Gary Payton and Andre Miller as players whose games he could emulate (along with a couple other low-to-the-ground scorers in Larry Bird and Paul Pierce).
“Hopefully we don’t change the way that we play,” Rambis said. “[Bryant] just gives us a much greater asset to use. Not only does he occupy his own individual defender, but he’ll occupy two or three other defenders which will help open guys up. Other teams have to game plan for him. So, if the ball continues to move, we’ll get much easier scoring opportunities.” [/pullquote]
Bryant has been one of the best players of all time due to his great basketball mind and ability to replicate the games of other legendary players. From Jerry West’s pull-up jumper to Michael Jordan’s fadeaway, Kobe has taken the best moves from his predecessors and used them on a nightly basis.
You can bet that Kobe has been studying film of some of the game’s greatest passers (Robertson, Johnson, Andre Miller, Gary Payton) and scorers (Bird, Paul Pierce), especially seeing as all those guys played below the rim for the majority of their careers.