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article imageOp-Ed: Lakers' Kobe Bryant hopes to return Friday

By Layne Weiss     Apr 19, 2012 in Sports
Los Angeles - It's been kinda fun watching Kobe Bryant assist Mike Brown with the Lakers coaching job, but it looks as if Kobe will be returning soon to a role he's more familiar with, perhaps as soon as Friday's game against the San Antonio Spurs.
ESPN reports that Kobe did very well in a series of physical tests before the Lakers' game against the Golden State Warriors, but he sat out as coach Mike Brown felt his star player wasn't quite ready.
"He's not completely right," Brown said. "Just because a guy can run and jump a little bit, and shoot, that doesn't mean that there's a comfort level from everybody to put him out there."
Kobe told Ric Bucher of ESPN Magazine that he will "probably be on the floor next game," which is Friday against the Spurs.
The Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors Wednesday 99-87. When asked if he would play against San Antonio Friday, Kobe replied, "Why not? I'm good."
Both Bryant and Lakers coach Mike Brown seem confident that Kobe will have no problems coming back. Physically Kobe feels great and believes he will have no limitations, while Brown doesn't see any issue in integrating Kobe back into the lineup.
According to Brown, the Lakers are looking forward to their leader returning, ESPN reports.
The Lakers went 5-2 without Kobe, which may have been a bit of a wake-up call. There have been plenty of games where Kobe has completely carried his team. He's that player. If his team's in trouble, he knows how to fight. See the 2010 NBA Finals vs. the Boston Celtics.
Kobe's time off, however, proved something huge. He and his fans may have been skeptical at how well the Lakers could do without their fearless leader, but as Kobe watched from the sidelines he saw his teammates Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol lead the Lakers to victory, sometimes in very dominating fashion.
Was it a pleasant surprise, a source of motivation, or a little bit of both? Was Kobe hurt or annoyed to see his team play so well in his absence? Frankly, I believe Carmelo Anthony was slightly annoyed and jealous by Jeremy Lin's success, but that's neither here nor there.
It was fun seeing Kobe in an assistant coaching role. Makes you wonder what his plans are once he retires, but now the Lakers are focused on finishing out this season, and going to the Playoffs. In 2011, they lost their focus and completely crumbled against the Dallas Mavericks, who became the 2011 NBA champions.
Kobe's time off may have been a blessing. It's allowed Kobe to see things from the outside, and it's allowed his teammates to prove they are strong, even in their leader's absence.
Pau Gasol who has played extremely well in Kobe's absence feels positive about his teammate's return. He said there has been plenty of time to discuss strategy for Kobe's return to the lineup.
Gasol isn't the only Laker ready to have Kobe back. Metta World Peace says, "He makes us better. I can't wait to get Kobe back. I just can't wait."
Everything seems pretty wonderful in Lakers' camp, but what about the young, awesome, but extremely volatile and immature, Andrew Bynum. Bynum has been a major factor in the Lakers' success without Kobe. How will he feel to see his leader return, as happy and excited as World Peace and Gasol?
We'll find out soon.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about kobe bry, Los angeles lakers, San antonio spurs, Injury
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