COMMENTARY | During the long summer days when there's no NBA action to speak of, the Los Angeles-based Drew League does an outstanding job of feeding the the basketball joneses of hoops-starved NBA fans in Southern California.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant made everyone's day by making a cameo at the league's championship game.
He sat courtside and watched as the Kings of L.A. squared off against Hank's Blazers, and spent an otherwise regular summer evening where he's most comfortable despite still recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon -- in a gymnasium.
Bryant's the type that no matter what condition he's in, he's 100-percent vested in basketball all the time. Those who were present knew that it wasn't just some public-relations stunt for him to show up and be a part of the festivities, which included several of his NBA peers.
The Black Mamba just wanted to be around the game, and even his most outspoken critics can't fault him for that. This photo of him chopping it up with fellow NBAer, L.A. native and former UCLA star Baron Davis is evidence of why he came out. There's not much going on in terms of top-level basketball in August, so L.A.'s Drew League is where the action is. Bryant wanted to be there because he's all about basketball.
In fact, if Kobe was right physically (and maybe five years younger), he'd probably be playing.
Obsession isn't hyperbole when it comes to using the term in conjunction with Bryant's attachment to the game. It's what's driven him to be one of the greatest players in NBA history, a perennial All-Star and a five-time champion. He lives basketball every day, and while most in his position would be holed up at home, Bryant is finding ways to stay close to the game he loves.
L.A. fans have to be encouraged by the fact that he's walking around comfortably. Even though he remains unsure for the season opener vs. the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 29, seeing that he's well enough to be out and about town is a great sign. The fact that he recently began running on an anti-gravity treadmill should add to that optimism.
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Michael C. Jones is a Southern California-based journalist covering the Lakers and the NBA and was the 2012 Yahoo Contributor of the Year. He is the founding editor of Sports Out West and contributes to SB Nation in addition to Yahoo! Sports.Statistics via Basketball-Reference.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- Kobe Bryant
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Los Angeles Clippers