Is It Time for Lakers Nation to Panic over Kobe Bryant’s Injury?

It’s the dawn of the NBA regular season, and in an annual rite of passage, alarms are already going off. For Lakers Nation, the question is whether it’s time to panic over Kobe Bryant‘s injury. Their answer is no, not yet. Still, the 15-time All-Star is under intense scrutiny as he continues his path back from a devastating injury.

Questions and updates are part of the process. Mike Bresnahan, the veteran beat writer from the Los Angles Times recently posted this tweet:

Dave McMenamin from ESPN had a similar update.

On Monday, McMenamin elaborated, saying in fact that Kobe did not have a setback:

Despite the apparent regression in his rehab after the star guard went through sprints on the court while the Los Angeles Lakers were in China, the team’s public relations vice president John Black said Bryant has “not suffered any setbacks” along his comeback trail.

The reality is that Bryant has come back faster than most thought possible, and in his typical fashion, may have pushed a little too hard. That’s nothing new. Bryant is a notorious gym rat with, arguably, the most intense work ethic in the NBA. Throughout the summer, we were treated to reports about the Mamba being ahead of schedule, including this piece from ESPN’s Arash Markazi.

And of course, there was the infamous jump off a high-dive platform into a pool. That was just Kobe being Kobe.

Bryant ruptured his Achilles tendon in a game against the Golden State Warriors, Friday, April 13. It was the tail end of the regular season. In typical fashion, he acted quickly, going under the knife the very next day. The operation was reported to be successful and performed by Dr. Neal ElAttache and Dr. Stephen Lombardi of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Group.

Thus launched a summer of breathless reports and speculation. The most common timetable for recovery, heard time and again, was six to nine months. That would put his return at anywhere from October 14 to January 14, 2014. And that’s being optimistic.

Here we are, the end of October, and headlines are blasting like air horns on a big rig. Is an anti-gravity treadmill really cause for panic? In truth, all we’re seeing is the usual process of rehabbing an injury. It’s often two steps forward and one step back.

Injuries are nothing new. Every team deals with them, and the good ones find a way to compensate. Of course, the calamities heaped upon the Lakers last season were unique. Longtime team trainer Gary Vitti recently expressed optimism about the team’s overall health and praised Bryant’s pragmatic approach to recovery.

Fine you say, that doesn’t really ease the panic. Who’s gonna step up and deliver?

First, the team’s younger and more athletic this season. They’re better suited to Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Jordan Farmar is a key addition this year, a welcome addition given Steve Nash’s age and health issues. Farmar can pick-and-roll all night long, and when he’s not on the floor, Steve Blake is certainly capable of running the offense, knocking down outside shots and playing scrappy defense.

Additionally, Pau Gasol is back and fresh after rehabbing his knees this summer. D’Antoni is calling him a better post player than Dwight Howard, and that’s saying something. Gasol is one of the league’s most skilled big men and will be a lot more comfortable in his preferred center spot.

Add Nick Young, who brings athleticism and scoring punch, and Shawne Williams, whose best season was with D’Antoni in New York, and you’re starting to see a different kind of club.

Nobody’s picking the Lakers to go all the way, certainly not without Kobe. But this is a team that seems to have a willing attitude for D’Antoni. Let’s let them actually play a few games before writing them off.

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Read more here: Bleacher Report

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