Kobe Bryant, the 37-year-old superstar of the Los Angeles Lakers, has received a clean bill of health from the doctors for him to play basketball this season. This would be the 20th NBA season of his illustrious career.
But Bryant has featured in only 41 games in the past two seasons. Now, Lakers’ coach Byron Scott plans to limit Bryant’s minutes as much as possible. According to the coach, this would bring out the best of Bryant in the coming season.
Bryant had surgery to repair a torn rotator-cuff in his shoulder on January this year.
“I think the biggest decision is playing time, trying to make that as limited as possible and also back-to-back games,” Scott said via the Orange County Register. “That’s something we have to talk about…. He and I have talked a number of times on the phone, we’ve talked about playing time, we’ve talked about back-to-back, we’re going to probably sit down as we get closer to training camp or as we get in training camp and even talk more about it. Because the one thing I want, if this is his last year, I want him to go out standing. I don’t want him to go out hurt. I want to make sure I do everything in my power to make sure we stick to the game plan, as far as his minutes and as far as back-to-back games.”
He also pointed out that he felt bad about over-playing Bryant at the start of last season and this time wants to stick to his new gameplan.
“I felt bad about it. I don’t know if I would say guilty. I know Kobe’s a competitor and he’s going to play as many minutes as you want him to play. I’m also a competitor, so I want to win and I know having him on the court gives me the best opportunity to win. But I also know that I’ve got to think about him more than anything…. Win or lose, I’m going to stick to it.”
While it is not clear what would be the actual minutes cap for the legendary Lakers’ star, it is expected that it’s going to be less than his 34.5, his average playing minutes per game last season. He featured over 40 minutes in four occasions.
Bryant’s performance in the regular season would be a testament of Scott’s plan.