When the Zen Master talks, people listen.
While many have grown tied of Magic Johnson’s rants, Phil Jackson’s opinion is still greatly respected by the fans of the purple and gold.
That’s why when Phil did an extensive interview with Fox Sports earlier this week, people sat up and took notice – especially when the 68-year-old got onto the touchy subject of Kobe Bryant’s (second) return.
“I think this injury was due to the fact that he had an Achilles’ tendon problem,” Jackson said. “I think it all kind of went together. Those are all sequential things in your body.”
So, the obvious follow-up question was asked: Should Bryant play this year?
After a fairly long pause, Jackson seemed undecided.
“Not unless they have … well, I think he will come back. I shouldn’t say whether they’re gonna make the playoffs or not,” Jackson said. “If he comes back in April, no. How many games do you play in April? 12? Then it’s not realistic. But if it’s somewhere in the middle of February, March, I think he’ll want to come back and get to that level again, and the only way you get to that level is to play ball against those kind of guys. It doesn’t happen on a playground or during the summer.”
While he wouldn’t want to admit it at this point – especially due to his extremely close ties to Jeanie Buss – the Zen Master knows this team isn’t making the playoffs this year.
Phil’s right about the timing of Bryant’s comeback, though.
If it’s too late in the year, there’s likely no point in Kobe returning this season. However, a comeback during February or March would be extremely beneficial to the Black Mamba. While all hope of the playoffs will most likely be dead and gone by then, Bryant will still be able to use the remaining games to get back to a level he’s comfortable with, which should help with the transition into his off-season training.