But if anyone has a reason to be down at the moment, it's Bryant, who knows full well that his absence was the sole reason why the Lakers were promptly dispatched by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoff this year without even a whimper.
Sure, there might have been other injuries in the team, but there's no doubting that the absence of the star guard was the biggest reason behind the Lakers' demise.
One can only imagine how Bryant must feel.
And yet, in spite of it all, Bryant has remained positive and optimistic about the injury. The virtual journey he's taken us on through via his Instagram account have shown the highs and lows of the injury—as best we can tell from images—but it also gives us an insight into the optimism Bryant has.
From the moment he went into surgery, the Mamba was relaxed.
Surgery prep time. Lookin like Mrs Doubtfire with a jerri curl cap lol Anesthesia next. #highasakite#mambaout
Even as the recovery process began, Bryant remained upbeat about the injury—speaking with enthusiasm about beating his latest opponent.
Cast off today. I have zero swelling and virtually no pain. Boot now for a few months. I start therapy this week. #StartwhereUstand #takethechallenge #pray4bear
Throw in his last shot from this afternoon, and the optimism is high.
Stitches out! #progress
Now whilst it must be noted that these are just images and short phrases from Bryant, and we thus can't know exactly how positive or optimistic he's feeling, the truth is that he's still presenting a very strong front—one that is ready for recovery and ready to come back as a better and stronger player.
His positive outlook is one that should inspire those within the L.A. franchise to look forward in eager anticipation. For if the Lakers themselves had Bryant's optimism, they would see that the future is indeed bright, and that there are positives to be found.
Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol finally started to get into a rhythm later on in the year, and Steve Nash began flashing his usual skills as a silky ball-handler.
The Lakers—even without Bryant—shot at 0.442 percent for the playoffs, which whilst not ideal, is certainly not the worst shooting performance we've seen in 2013.
L.A. will be back next year looking for a postseason berth once more.
And should Bryant return, that dream could very well be a reality in 2013.
For despite all the frustrations and issues throughout the year, the Lakers still finished with many good signs and will look to be back next season. Providing they can remain positive, that is, and not become weighed down by talk of Bryant's future being over or Howard walking out.
The Lakers could learn a thing or two from Kobe about optimism, if only for how to put on a brave face when everyone's looking.
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