12th I see..
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) August 14, 2013
A group of ESPN panelists recently released their projected standings for the Western Conference and according to them, the Los Angeles Lakers will find themselves finishing in 12th place, and missing the playoffs with a 36-46 record.
More than just being predicted to finish in 12th place, the news was coupled with a few surprising teams picked to finish with a better record than the Lakers — Minnesota Timberwolves (8th), Dallas Mavericks (9th), Portland Trailblazers (10th), and New Orleans Pelicans (11th).
As a point of reference, the Lakers ended last season with a 45-37 record and as the seventh seed. Expectedly, the news drew the ire of Kobe Bryant who responded with an ominous tweet; “12th I see…”
Bryant is unquestionably facing the most serious physical challenge in his career, but he is reportedly ahead of schedule to recovery and given his track record and how many times he’s been poked and prodded since his injury, ESPN may have done a disservice to the rest of the league.
Let’s not forget a quote Bryant referenced in a Facebook post in the immediate aftermath of his Achilles injury; ‘If you see me in a fight with a bear, prey [sic] for the bear.’ I’ve always loved that quote”, he wrote.
It’s time to pray for the bear.
Kobe opens up
At the “Kobe Up Close Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel” event, Bryant sat down and provided some in-depth details, much of which were previously unknown. Below are a few highlights from the interview session.
- Bryant stated that had he opted to attend college, he would have committed to North Carolina, not Duke, which had long been the common belief
- Bryant responded “I don’t know if I’ll be ready for opening night” when asked if he would suit up for the season opener on October 29
- If he could pick one former teammate to join the Lakers again it would be Derek Fisher
- He named Tracy McGrady as the toughest player he’s faced
- When asked if he was certain he would be a Laker for life, Bryant answered unequivocally “Yeah”
- The Los Angeles Clippers enjoyed their pre-draft workout with Bryant in 1997, but according to Bryant, they informed him they couldn’t draft him because of the fear that they wouldn’t be taken seriously should they draft a 17-year-old
- When asked about his desire to win his sixth championship, Bryant responded “I just want that jewelry. People just don’t understand how obsessed I am with winning.”