Kobe Bryant returns to Lakers bench at the request of Byron Scott
Kobe Bryant was back on the Lakers’ bench Sunday for the first time since undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in January. But it wasn’t necessarily his idea.
Coach Byron Scott said he spoke with Bryant during the team’s recent trip and told the 17-time All-Star he wanted to him to attend the team’s home games.
“I wanted him around,” Scott said. “I like seeing him.”
Bryant, looking dapper in black slacks and a sports coat and an open-collared shirt, sat near the end of the Lakers’ bench, occasionally exchanging fist bumps with teammates as they came out of the game.
“It was good to see him out here. Good to see him with this teammates,” Scott said of Bryant, who will get $23.5 million from the Lakers this season. “I’m sure it was good for the fans to see him as well.”
Young season over?
Nick Young missed his seventh consecutive game with a left knee injury, and the Lakers said it’s possible he could be sidelined the rest of the season.
Young, who is averaging 13.4 points a game, hasn’t played since scoring 19 in a Feb. 22 win over Boston. Scott had hoped Young would be able to test out his sore and swollen knee this week, but before Sunday’s loss to Dallas he was less optimistic, saying that the guard is unlikely to play on the Lakers’ current home stand — and may not return at all.
“Could be,” he said. “It just depends on if this thing heals up. But if he can play those last couple of weeks or so, then I’m going to have him play.”
Problems with the same knee caused Young to miss 17 games last February and March. But he returned to finish strong, averaging 24.1 points a game in April.
Scott thinks a similarfinish would help Young, who is shooting a career-low 37% from the field this season.
“I’m not saying he has anything to prove, but it would be good to go out ona positive note,” Scott said. “His confidence has been shot a little bit. He might not admit it, but he’s not the Swaggy P that we all know and love.”
Scott ‘having a ball’
Scott admitted the Lakers’ struggles this season have been frustrating. But he said that hasn’t diminished his enthusiasm for the job.
“I’m having a ball. Except after losses,” said Scott, in his 14th season as an NBA head coach.
“But the next day I feel great because it gives me another chance to get in these guys’ ears to get better as a basketball team and to get better as individual basketball players.”
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.
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