Below is the second part of a recent interview I had with James Worthy, who will be the Lakers representative for the NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday in New York City. Worthy, who won three NBA titles with the Showtime Lakers, is currently an on-air analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, the Lakers’ flagship station.
How confident are you that Kobe Bryant can stay healthy and play effective after having two major injuries?
Worthy: Everything still surrounds Kobe. He’s still the franchise player and he will tell you he’s in uncharted territory in having two major injuries and if this will allow him to play in games. It’s going to be a test for him. He’s going to have to adjust his game and play below the rim. His role takes on another dimension. Or can he come back and surprise us all as he does and play like a 20 year old again. I’ve always said he’s not human. He and LeBron James are like aliens. It’ll be interesting to see what planet Kobe will be coming back from. He can do it.
But I remember when my knee was bad. I’m not comparing myself to Kobe Bryant by any means. But it’s tough. I didn’t have the mental fortitude that he has. I worked for it. But I don’t think I had the work discipline that he had , the work ethic in getting up at 5 in the morning and all of that kind of stuff. But it’s tough when you have to change your style of game. I remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar couldn’t push off his foot to throw down the skyhook. I remember Magic Johnson making the adjustment in being a total postup player in his last couple of years that he came back. Can Kobe make the adjustments? Can Kobe take on a role like that and still be the franchise player? We’ll have to wait and see.
What about Steve Nash?
Worthy: He can bring a lot of coaching stability, especially on who they bring in. Any veteran like that, I look at Steve Nash like Jason Kidd. He’s kind of a role that he can play as a player coach. I think Steve could be healthy and move and be mobile. Defensively he’s always going to be an issue. But there are ways Steve can have an impact on the floor and particularly with the stability in the locker room and that kind of thing.