Doc Rivers Believes Kobe Bryant Returning Will Be Bittersweet

DocThe Los Angeles Lakers got the 2013-14 NBA season underway on Tuesday against the division rival Los Angeles Clippers. Along with new additions on both teams, the one newcomer that stood out amongst the rest was head coach Doc Rivers.

Before the game at Staples Center on Tuesday night, Rivers spoke with Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com about Kobe Bryant returning and facing the Clippers in the final three matchups. Rivers said the following about Kobe’s return:

“I have two sides to that,” Rivers said. “The competitive side of me says yes. The rational side of me thinks other things. I mean, he’s going to be back. I want him to be back, I really do. I think Kobe is important to L.A. I think he’s important to the NBA and I think we should cherish him as long as he’s going to play and I really believe that.”

There’s no question Rivers respects Kobe. Rivers knows Kobe’s impact on the game and the legacy he’ll leave behind when he finally calls it quits, but also remembers frustration of playing against him in Boston via McMenamin:

“I couldn’t stand playing against him in Boston. I will not enjoy playing against him here, but I do like seeing him on the floor. He’s a rare one. He’s a one percenter. There is very few guys to ever play like Kobe Bryant and I think all of us, every time we get a chance, we should take that chance and watch him play.”

Once it is all said and done, Kobe will easily go down as one of the greatest players of all-time. Arguably a first-ballot Hall of Famer and in the conversation for greatest ever to play the game along with Michael Jordan and company.

As many of us already have started to come to grips with, Kobe isn’t going to be around for much longer and we should cherish every minute he’s got left on the floor. Rivers seems to be coming to that conclusion as well even though he’ll benefit more from Kobe’s retirement than most.

With Kobe’s timetable still uncertain, there’s no telling when the five-time NBA champion will return to the floor. Fortunately, the Lakers won’t face the Clippers for a second time until Jan. 10. It’d be safe to say, pending any setbacks, that Kobe will be good to go for that game.

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