To start the 2015-16 NBA season, there was plenty of excitement surrounding Kobe Bryant’s 20th season with the Los Angeles Lakers. However, while Kobe set a new record for most seasons played with one franchise, he struggled tremendously and was heavily criticized for his shot selection.
Since announcing his retirement at the end of the season on Nov. 30, Kobe has slowly regained his form. In the past four games, he is averaging 25.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 30.5 minutes.
Following his 31-point performance against the Nuggets in which he scored 11 points in the final quarter, Kobe discussed his early season struggles, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:
“The hardest thing [was] to stay with it, seriously,” the Los Angeles Lakers star said Tuesday. “There’s been games where I was just kind of like, ‘What the hell?’
To start the season, airballing became an unusual trend for the five-time champion, but Kobe continued to trust that his hard work during the off-season would eventually show:
“Because I knew how hard I worked. I knew how many shots I took. There was just nothing I could do. What I had to do was just stay with it. Just stay with it. Just stay with it. And just trust that, eventually, it would catch up.”
As Kobe is enjoying his farewell tour, fans around the world are enjoying him playing at a high level again. While it was difficult to watch the struggles, it appears Kobe has made adjustments to his game and it also has allowed the young core to thrive as well.
With the Lakers traveling home to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in a back-to-back situation, Kobe is expected to play. After sitting out with a sore shoulder in their previous meeting in Oklahoma City, Wednesday’s game will mark one of the final matchups between Kobe and Kevin Durant.