The Los Angeles Lakers are in the early stages of the season, but Kobe Bryant is looking ahead at Game 82 in a way that seems unreasonable in his 20th season. Kobe told Lakers head coach Byron Scott he would "like to try and play every game" since it could be his final year in the NBA, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN.
That's no easy task for a player whose injuries have shortened his previous few season considerably. Still, Scott plans on seeing how it goes and expects Kobe will start in both games of the Lakers' first back-to-back. If 82 games really is the prize Kobe wants in Year 20, Scott's approach will be to limit his minutes in back-to-backs, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
Bryant's averaging 29.1 minutes per game, nearly a career-low, as the Lakers struggle to find consistency in their on-court production. L.A. is just 1-5 on the season, starting slow and out of sync on both ends of the floor.
Kobe staying healthy enough to play in all 82 games would arguably be one of the most surprising outcomes of the year, but would definitely be a great way to give him an opportunity to enjoy what could be his last hurrah as a professional athlete. Will it happens? Who knows, but the biggest challenge will be those back-to-backs even if he remains healthy all year. For now, the plan appears to be to limit his minutes rather than sitting him out of those contests.
We'll see how Kobe looks when the Lakers bounce from Miami to Orlando.