Kobe Bryant came into last season looking like a totally different player. Whereas in 2010-11 he was beginning to show the signs of wear and tear you would expect to see from a guy with 14 years of basketball on his legs, in 2011-12 he went Benjamin Button on us.
And the stats reflected the change.
Kobe’s points per game jumped by nearly three. He took more free throws and made them at a higher clip. (His newfound burst made it possible for him to attack the basket more, as opposed to just shooting from the perimeter.) And, most importantly, despite the fact that he played nearly six more minutes per outing than the year prior – the effects from that additional action didn’t become all that apparent until the second round of the postseason.
No matter how you feel about him as a player, it’s tough to deny that Kobe was better last year than he was the year before. What was the secret of his success? A mysterious, mildly shady-sounding German procedure that just about everyone in pro sports seems to be getting these days.
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Given the great results it produced last season, a lot of people just naturally assumed that Kobe would do it again this year.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times:
He revealed after practice that his summer schedule had not included a stop in Dusseldorf, Germany, for a procedure on his knee similar to the one he had last year.
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"A little busy," Bryant said, alluding to the Olympic gold medal he won with the U.S. national team.
Did Bryant, who turned 34 in August, anticipate needing a follow-up procedure on the knee?
"You mean like I'll fly to Germany during the season?" Bryant asked.
Or maybe the doctor could come to you?
"No," Bryant said. "I think I'll be fine."
The Lakers better hope so. For all the talk about Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and the team’s much-improved bench – the key to their success always has been and always will be Kobe. Not because he's the best player on the squad (that would be the much younger Howard), but because he still plays like he’s the best player on the squad.
For better or worse, Kobe is going to take as many shots as he has always taken, with the same show-no-fear attitude that he has maintained throughout his entire career. If he isn't hitting those shots because he’s not right, that could mean big trouble for the Lakers’ championship hopes.
Kobe says he doesn’t need a follow-up to last year’s procedure. Time will tell if he's right.
(Kudos Los Angeles Times)