Tuesday , Feb , 19 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

It Is In the Best Interests of the L.A. Lakers for Kobe Bryant to Have Surgery Now

It Is In the Best Interests of the L.A. Lakers for Kobe Bryant to Have Surgery Now

The Lakers have at least five good years ahead of them (barring a catastrophic injury).  Because of the currently depleted state of their team, Kobe Bryant should have the surgery. 

Let me tell you about Daryl Clack.  He was a half-back at Arizona State University.  Going into his senior year, he was injured and the doctors said he was out for the season.  The team red-shirted him so that he could rehab his injury and come back the following season.  His rehab went better than expected.  He was medically able to play in the final game against the hated in-state rival University of Arizona Wildcats.  Furthermore, a victory would have sent ASU to its first ever Rose Bowl.  He decided to play and lost his red-shirt status.  The last game against U of A was his last game in the maroon and gold.  I remember that he got signed by Dallas at one point in time, but I don’t think he played in the pros more than a handful of years. 

Andrew Bynum is a minimum of three weeks away from returning.  Even then, he’ll need a few more weeks to hit his form – if he is able to do so this season.  That puts his return to “full strength” in mid-April, the end of the season – if everything goes properly.  Luke Walton is still injured.  Lamar Odom is perpetually injured (I doubt he would know how to play at full strength, though, so he doesn’t count). 

On top of that, there is speculation about whether other players will attack Kobe’s hand.  By the way, that’s a nice piece of propaganda by Phil Jackson and the Lakers’ PR department to plant the seed for the officials.  I don’t see it as much of a problem until April 13 when the Lakers travel to San Antonio, though.  No amount of “seed-planting” by the Zen-Meister will get Bruce Bowen into any trouble. 

The obvious problem with waiting is that it could very well spell the death knell for the Lakers’ playoff hopes in the insanely competitive Western Conference.  If the Lakers could stay in it, though, it would be a great boost of confidence for Pau Gasol and the rest of the team.  They would have Kobe and Bynum back at about the same time to make a playoff run. 

By not waiting, Kobe is risking serious ligament damage.  That’s a pretty big deal, I hear. 

Over the next five years, with Kobe, Bynum and Gasol at full strength and a more-than-capable supporting cast, the Lakers are going to be a force to contend with.  Why risk that?  The Phoenix Suns’ window is closing and the geriatric Spurs cannot keep this up much longer.  They’re going to have to re-formulate the team sometime before the end of the world (which, by the way, is Winter Solstice in 2012).  Dallas is a shell of its former self.  Although the Hornets and the Blazers are making strides, next year’s edition of the Lakers should be able to handle them. 

The risks are just too high for the rewards.  Without Kobe at full strength, I don’t see Gasol carrying them through the playoffs, and I don’t think that Bynum will be able to contribute this year as he did before the injury. 

The best move for the Lakers is to circle the wagons and come out with guns blazing at the beginning of the next season.  Do not risk five years of quality basketball for the questionable upside of this season.