Kobe Bryant is one tough cookie. His litany of injuries, and his efforts to play through them, document the fact. The Lakers have just as many injuries as many other teams who are struggling with health, except that almost all the Laker injuries belong to one man, and that man has shown he can play through just about anything. He's been called a football player playing basketball, a warrior, a soldier, and a variety of other phrases that all point to the same conclusion; Kobe Bryant is one of the toughest players in the NBA. And yet, he's finally given in to his body, missing the past two games. Has his tough guy attitude finally caught up to him? Has he realized that both he and the team would be better off if he took a couple games off? Or is Kobe simply being as strategic off the court as he is on it?
Whether he did so on purpose or not, Kobe picked the absolute perfect time to maximize the amount of rest he could possibly get. The Lakers are coming off of a stretch in which they played in 4 straight "3 games in 4 nights" situations. They've played just about the maximum amount of games a team can play over that time, 12 games in 18 days. So, if Kobe wanted to choose a time where resting would have a minimal impact on the number of games he missed, he wouldn't have been able to rest "efficiently" at any time in the past 2.5 weeks. But that's not all that could have gone into the potential decision to rest right when Kobe did.
The other factor in play is All-Star Weekend, and we're now hearing reports that Kobe is unsure if he'll participate. David Stern has indicated many times in the past that any player which plays up to the All Star Game is expected to play in the All-Star Game. I don't know if it's an actual rule, but All-Star weekend is not to be treated as a free vacation just because its competitions do not actually matter. Further, someone with as checkered a history as Kobe's would be an absolute idiot to give all those fans (he was the 2nd leading vote getter behind only LeBron) the double middle finger by ditching the game despite being capable of playing.
Those complaints (or warnings) are no longer valid since Kobe really is missing time. Assuming he misses Wednesday's game in Utah, he'll have missed three games before the ASG due to injury, and would have a legitimate out if he chose (or needed) to use it. Then, he could return next Tuesday against Golden State, and he would have been able to rest 10 days while only missing 3 games. But as it turns out, when it comes to maximizing time to heal while minimizing games missed, Kobe could do even better than that.
After the All-Star break, the Lakers have a pretty weird scheduling quirk. They play the following Tuesday against the Warriors, and the following Thursday against the Celtics and then ... have another 4 days in between games. They basically have a 2nd All-Star break the weekend after the All-Star break. So, going back to our hypothetical situation, Kobe could sit out those two games as well (further cementing the notion that he really couldn't have played in the ASG), and the result would be a whopping 17 days off while only missing 5 games. Or, roughly the same amount of time that saw the Lakers play 12 games in the past three weeks.
When considering the way the Lakers have played in his absence, one thing is certain; Kobe's decision to rest was the right one. I don't know if Kobe's choice of when to rest was as calculating as I've suggested, or if he really was finally listening to his own body. But I do know that if I were Kobe, and I knew I could play through anything, but that I needed to rest at some point to let those injuries heal properly, this is exactly the time I'd choose to do it. I do know that the game before he rested, he didn't look any more limited than he has at any time in the past few weeks. I do know that everything Kobe does is geared towards his winning another championship. I do know that his rest comes at a theoretically perfect time to acheive maximum results with minimum negative side effects.
Then again, Kobe being Kobe, he'll probably just end up playing tomorrow night.