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Kobe Bryant is geared to compete and win games

Kobe the ballplayer is to be revered. Kobe the ballplayer is to be admired. Kobe the ballplayer is the longing of every NBA team and fan.
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 12, 2013

Say what you will about Kobe Bryant the person.

Put it this way, he doesn't exactly fit the Thunder mold of having ballplayers who are good guys with salt-of-the-earth character.

But Kobe the ballplayer is a different story.

Kobe the ballplayer is to be revered. Kobe the ballplayer is to be admired. Kobe the ballplayer is the longing of every NBA team and fan.

The reason: his competitiveness.

On the day the Lakers come to town to play the Thunder, Kobe's laserlike focus on winning is sure to be on display. I'm not suggesting that the Lakers will win. On the contrary, I suspect the Thunder will roll. Oklahoma City is mowing down opponents while Los Angeles is struggling since Kobe's return from that devastating Achilles injury.

But rest assured, Kobe will make it interesting.

For starters, he's likely to be guarding Russell Westbrook some. That's because the Lakers are without a healthy point guard. Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar were already sidelined, and the Lakers announced Thursday that starting point guard Steve Blake will miss at least six weeks with a torn ligament in his right elbow.

Hello, Kobe the point guard.

Westbrook and those rocket engine legs should dominate, but Kobe will make him work.

That's the kind of competitor Kobe is.

I mean, the guy is 35 years old, ancient by NBA standards. Had any other player of his advanced age had his Achilles pop the way Kobe's did last spring, that would've been it.

Career over.

But that was never a consideration for Kobe.

After surgery on April 13 repaired his completely torn Achilles, a return to the court was estimated at six to nine months. But six weeks later, he was walking on a treadmill in an anti-gravity chamber to lessen the exercise's impact. A month after that, he was shooting free throws at the Lakers' practice facility. And a few weeks after that, he was running in that anti-gravity chamber.

On Oct. 9, Kobe was cleared to participate in all activities, no restrictions.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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