Kobe Bryant's struggles this season have been sad to watch for fans of the Los Angles Lakers and Golden State Warriors players alike. Bryant's field goal percentage (31.1%) and three-point percentage(19.5%) are career-lows but Bryant and Lakers head coach Byron Scott have remained confident that the 17-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer will be able to regain his rhythm. Others around the league are far less certain.
"Oh, yeah, this definitely should be it [for Bryant]," former Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets forward and current "Inside the NBA" analyst Charles Barkley told Mike Breshnahan of the Los Angeles Times . "To me, this is like a farewell tour," Barkley said. "Just go and play 25 minutes a night and let the NBA fans say, 'Thank you for an amazing career.'"
An anonymous Western Conference guard also interviewed by Bresnahan was far less charitable in his assessment of Bryant's play than even the notoriously outspoken Barkley:
"Yeah, I've seen him play and it's disgusting," the guard told Bresnahan. "He's one of the best of all time. But he really hasn't played that much in the last two or three years. He's got nothing left. It's sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great."
Bryant's high usage and low-efficiency play has been difficult to watch for all Lakers fans, and most basketball fans in general. The aging process of former greats is almost never pretty, but Bryant's has been especially graceless because of how he is being allowed to play as if he is still in his prime and this is just a slump he has to bust out of.
After three consecutive season ending injuries, it's hard for even the most optimistic Lakers fans to believe the scoring displays Bryant is best known for are anything more than memories at this point, highlights to be played at his Hall of Fame induction and Staples Center statue unveiling. That Bryant is gone, and it remains to be seen when and if this Bryant is going to realize it.