Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

March 13, 2014

NBA: Lakers declare Kobe Bryant out for season

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Immediately after the Los Angeles Lakers declared Kobe Bryant out for the season, he already was thinking about how to make sure the Lakers will be much less miserable when he returns.

Bryant expressed only mild frustration Wednesday after the long-expected decision to end his 18th NBA season after just six games. The superstar guard's broken bone in his left knee has kept him out since shortly before Christmas, and it still hasn't healed enough for weight-bearing exercise.

With just five weeks left in their injury-ravaged season, the Lakers (22-42) elected to preserve Bryant for next year, when he'll be 36. And though Bryant has barely played, he is determined to make sure the Lakers' failures of this season aren't repeated in 2014-15.

The Lakers' ruthlessly competitive scorer can't take much more of this incompetence from his 16-time NBA champion franchise.

''I feel like killing everybody every time I go to the arena,'' Bryant said. ''I'm just on edge all the time. Yeah, I still feel it, probably more than anybody in the organization does. I probably feel it more, and it drives me absolutely crazy.''

Bryant clearly identified the Lakers' top offseason priorities in his mind, and they didn't include specific free-agent additions. The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history called on the Lakers' front office - and owner Jim Buss in particular - to set ''a clear direction'' for the franchise's return to the top after they miss the playoffs this spring for just the second time in his career.

''You've got to start with Jim,'' Bryant said. ''You've got to start with Jim and Jeanie (Buss), and how that relationship plays out. It starts there, and having clear direction and clear authority. And then it goes down to the coaching staff, and what's Mike (D'Antoni) going to do, what they want to do with Mike, and then it goes from there. It's got to start at the top.''

Phil Jackson's apparent decision to take a front-office job with the New York Knicks also drew a negative reaction from Bryant. The Lakers flirted with re-hiring the 11-time NBA champion coach early last season before unexpectedly choosing D'Antoni, whose two injury-plagued teams have gone 62-74.

''You know how I feel about Phil,'' Bryant said. ''I have so much admiration for him, and respect, and have a great relationship with him. Personally, it would be hard for me to understand that happening twice. It would be tough. I don't really get it.''

Bryant said nothing about his relationship with D'Antoni, and the coach said he hadn't spoken to Bryant about the decision to shut him down.

But Bryant said he won't be satisfied with another rebuilding year for the Lakers, even though his two-year, $48 million contract extension starting next season will absorb a large chunk of the team's upcoming salary-cap space. Most of Los Angeles' roster will be free agents in the summer, and Bryant has said he wants center Pau Gasol to return.

''How can I be satisfied with it?'' Bryant asked. ''We're like 100 games under .500. I can't be satisfied with that at all. This is not what we stand for. This is not what we play for. A lot of times, it's hard to understand that message if you're not a die-hard Laker fan. It's hard to really understand where we're coming from, what we're used to, what we're accustomed to, which is playing for championships. Everything else is a complete failure. That's just how it is.''

Exactly 11 months after tearing his Achilles, Bryant remained confident he can return in something close to top form. He plans to approach his remaining rehabilitation as ''a seven-month training program,'' giving him ample time to rebuild strength in his left leg.

''I don't want to say I'll be back at the top of my game,'' Bryant said. ''Because everybody is going to think I'm crazy, and it's the old-player-not-letting-go sort of thing. But that's what it's going to be.''

Bryant missed the first 19 games of this season after tearing his left Achilles tendon last April, returning Dec. 8. The five-time NBA champion was back in uniform for just 10 days before fracturing the top of his shinbone in Memphis.

The Lakers initially thought Bryant could return shortly after six weeks of recovery, but the bone has been slow to heal.

''With Kobe's injury still not healed, the amount of time he'd need to rehab and be ready to play, and the amount of time remaining in the season, we've simply run out of time for him to return,'' Lakers trainer Gary Vitti said.

Los Angeles began the day in a three-way tie for last place in the Western Conference with 29 losses in its last 38 games heading into Thursday's trip to Oklahoma City.

Steve Nash hasn't been formally shut down for the season, but D'Antoni indicated it's also unlikely the two-time MVP guard will return this season. The 40-year-old Nash, who has one year left on his contract, has played in only 10 games this season while dealing with back problems and related woes.

D'Antoni said Jordan Hill and Nick Young are both unlikely to play on the Lakers' upcoming two-game road trip, but Gasol is probable despite skipping part of practice Wednesday.



 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0292web.jpg ‘All-State Sluggers’

    When Claremore’s Matt Whatley takes his place behind the plate tonight in the Oklahoma Coaches Association Large School East-West All-State baseball game, the former Zebra catcher will be right at home.
    Whatley, who started four years as the catcher for the Zebras, finds his final high school baseball game taking place in his future college ballpark.
    Last November, Whatley and his long-time friend, Bryce Howe, signed NCAA Division I baseball scholarships to play for the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles.
    Tonight, those dreams come true for Whatley and Jenks outfielder Cadon Owens, who will be joining his former Bearcats teammate on the East squad. Also, Verdigris' Ryan Skalnik will start at third base for the Large East All-State team.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NFL: Cowboys QB Romo skips full-pad session

    The Dallas Cowboys are taking it easy with Tony Romo's back.

    Romo sat out a competitive practice for the first time at training camp Tuesday, although coach Jason Garrett said it wasn't because of any setbacks from surgery for a herniated disk in late December.

    July 30, 2014

  • OSU alum Barry Sanders helping to work with Heads Up Football

    Barry Sanders and Randy Gradishar have joined the growing list of former NFL players who want to promote USA Football's safety program, Heads Up Football.

    July 30, 2014

  • ESPN suspends Stephen Smith for comments on abuse

    ESPN has suspended outspoken sportscaster Stephen A. Smith for a week because of his comments about domestic abuse suggesting women should make sure that they don't do anything to provoke an attack.

    July 30, 2014

  • NFL: Ray Guy's long wait to HOF comes to an end

    Ray Guy built a Hall of Fame career of making other people wait.

    Those anxious seconds for punt returners awaiting his booming kicks were nothing compared to the more than two decades Guy had to endure before finally getting the call that he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    July 30, 2014

  • MLB: Cubs drop Rockies in 16 innings

    Both the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies ran out of relief pitchers in a marathon game. The Rockies then turned to a starter. The Cubs used a catcher - and won.

    John Baker scored the winning run in the bottom of the 16th inning after pitching a scoreless top half, and the Cubs overcame a three-run deficit to beat Colorado 4-3 on Tuesday night.

    July 30, 2014

  • NFL: Sam factor prepares Rams for sensitivity session

    To guard against another bullying scandal, NFL teams are holding sensitivity sessions during training camp.

    Such guidance could be valuable for the St. Louis Rams, even if by all accounts they have welcomed Michael Sam into the fold.

    July 30, 2014

  • MLB: Vin Scully returns for 66th season as Dodgers announcer

    Vin Scully is staying in the booth for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    The 86-year-old Hall of Fame announcer will return for his record 66th season with the team in 2015. The announcement was made by in Korean, Spanish and English by players Hyun-Jin Ryu, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner on the Dodger Stadium video board in the second inning of Tuesday night's game against Atlanta.

    July 30, 2014

  • UCLA wades through water damage in Pauley Pavilion

    The quiet summer campus of UCLA suddenly was steeped in water and chaos after a major water pipe burst and spewed some 8 million gallons, stranding people in parking garages and flooding the school's storied basketball court less than two years after a major renovation.

    July 30, 2014