Bryant eyes new role in his likely final season

Fri Oct 23, 2015 10:07am EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Throughout his illustrious All-Star career, Kobe Bryant has made a living by making the seemingly impossible possible for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 'Black Mamba' has made a habit of draining game-winning shots despite being double or triple-teamed, establishing a reputation for being one of the best ever closers in the National Basketball Association as a shooting guard.

At times, Bryant has been accused of being a ball-hog, though he has frequently excelled as a facilitator and is unrivalled in the modern game when it comes to basketball IQ.

As he approaches his 20th, and perhaps final, season in the league, Bryant is preparing for a very different role for the Lakers in a bid to curb a growing list of injuries in recent years after succumbing to the influence of Father Time.

He spent almost eight months on the sidelines in 2013 with a torn Achilles' tendon, then played just six games during the 2013-14 season because of a severe knee injury.

Last season, Bryant played 35 games for the Lakers but increasingly suffered soreness in his knees, feet and back, prompting coach Byron Scott to cut back significantly on his playing time going forward while altering his on-court role.

"If this is his last year, I want him to go out standing," Scott told reporters about the 37-year-old Bryant while preparing his team for the 2015-16 season. "I don't want him to go out hurt.

"I want to make sure I do everything in my power to make sure we stick to the game plan ... trying to make that (his playing time) as limited as possible and also back-to-back games.   Continued...

Oct 13, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) and coach Byron Scott react during the game against the Sacramento Kings at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports