Kobe Bryant, the aging, creaky, washed-up, ex-star of the Los Angeles Lakers, continued to have maybe not his best season of his 16-year NBA career Wednesday night, as his 40 points in a win over the Utah Jazz kept his scoring average barely above 30 points per game.
"I've pretty much seen Kobe from afar my whole career," said new Lakers coach Mike Brown. "And he's just a shell of what he used to be, in my opinion. I mean, remember a few years ago when he had 81 points in a game? He only had 48 the other night. Forty-eight! It was sad to watch. Like seeing Willie Mays drop fly balls in the outfield for the Mets."
Former Lakers teammate Lamar Odom was dealt to the Mavericks before the start of the season and says it was a blessing.
"Kobe is my friend. We've battled together for championships," said Odom. "But I don't have the courage to be by him every day, watching him waste away. I just don't. It would be too hard to stomach."
Bryant leads the NBA in scoring at 30.3 points per game, but it's only the third-highest scoring average in his career.
"Numbers can be misleading," said Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant's longtime Lakers teammate. "His performances now are like when a dead body seizes a few times before the final light goes out. Kobe is probably the worst best player in the NBA ever."
Bryant says his motivation now is not winning championships or scoring titles, but to not get cut and be forced to ply his trade in the D-League or overseas.
"Look, I've heard what everyone has said about me," said Bryant. "That many people can't be wrong. I know it's over for me. But until they rip my jersey off and kick me out of the league, I guess I'll just keep showing up and try not to humiliate myself with, like, a 20-point game or something.