As the National Basketball Association readies itself for its "second season," Lakers living legend Kobe Bryant finds himself unexpectedly confined to an L.A. hospital following season-ending surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Meanwhile, Bulls MVP Derrick Rose is scrimmaging with Chicago teammates, but is declining game participation -- still in recovery mood and mode from an ACL tear, despite clearance from doctors to play two months ago.
For both, it is an unexpected finish to the 2012-2013 NBA schedule. For fans it is a puzzling picture of two vastly different mindsets.
In the case of Kobe Bryant, the biggest question is that of minutes -- too many minutes played of late for a 34-year old body asked to give 110 percent on every play -- offensively and defensively. His minutes played are among the most in the league this year and more than in the last few years of his career.
In a professional team sport where players' minutes are usually limited to somewhere in the 30s, Kobe's game action has frequently exceeded 40 minutes per game, and in the games leading up to his injury, he played nearly the entire game -- almost the full 48 minutes of a regulation NBA contest.
Blame the coach, or Laker management, if you will, for not sitting Kobe for a few minutes more during games, but blame also the player himself for refusing any such overture. It is better still, perhaps, to accept Kobe's rationale that he was indispensable -- for every minute of every game.
There may be some egotism in that thinking, but in reality, it is, indeed, unlikely that the Lakers could have surged back into playoff contention without Kobe on the floor for nearly all of the game.
Kobe Bryant's mindset is to go all out at all times--to play as hard as he can for as long as he can. And that is what he was doing when he was injured. And even after he had crumbled to the floor with a ruptured Achilles, he didn't allow himself to be taken from the court before rising to successfully convert two free throws.
In the case of Derrick Rose, the question is why he hasn't returned to the lineup. The delay has been disappointing and frustrating for millions of fans, and has created an uncertain situation that must surely be troubling to teammates. The only reason Rose has given for not being activated is that he wants to be his old self when he returns.
Meanwhile, his doctors have pronounced him fully recovered and physically fit to play. And his coach has said that he is at present the best player on the practice floor.
Rose can help his team. He owes it to his teammates, and the organization, and the city of Chicago, and fans everywhere to get back on the floor and give it his all.
It is difficult to rationalize the Derrick Rose mindset without thinking of Kobe Bryant.
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