A day after Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon, team General Manager Mitch Kupchak said the star had already turned the page. Kupchak told Jim Rome on Monday that Bryant’s morale had made a complete transformation from being upset Friday night to Saturday morning when the superstar guard was looking towards his return.
“His spirits were through the roof,” said Kupchak. “He was excited about getting this thing handled right away and he was thinking about training camp and next season.”
The general manager said it’s impossible to know for sure if the volume of minutes Bryant, 34, had been logging lately contributed to him getting injured. Kupchak also made it clear the coach determines how much a player plays, but Bryant’s a special case and the 2-time scoring champion wanted to play as much as possible in their quest to make the playoffs.
“We’re dealing with a player who’s at the top of his game in his season 17th season in the NBA,” said Kupchak. “He’s earned that respect.”
Kupchak said Kobe has a history of checking himself back in a game without his coaches telling him to, but those are the perks of a 5-time champion.
“There are times during the game when Mike (D’Antoni) or Phil (Jackson) or Mike Brown or Rudy Tomjanovich have taken Kobe out of a game,” said Kupchak. “Then Kobe, at some point, says ‘Well, it’s time for me to go back in.’”
Kupchak was pleased with the performance from the team Sunday in their first game without Bryant, particularly what he saw from Dwight Howard.
“For the last six or seven weeks, we’ve been seen him playing like he played in Orlando,” said Kupchak.
Asked whether or not he expects the 7-time All-Star to re-sign with the team, this summer, Kupchak was clear.
“I expect it,” said Kupchak.