Local fans have been on pins and needles waiting for the expected return of Kobe Bryant. Many of them seem to think that he can just step back on the court, after the absence of about one year, and nothing would have changed. If they were expecting the Kobe Bryant who had won championships here, then they were sorely disappointed. When they are at their peak, great players make any game look easy. The reality is that they are not easy, and even great athletes have to work hard in order to play them well.
The reality is that Bryant, with his incredible talent and unbelievable work ethic, may not be able to make a successful comeback. This is the potential reality that many fans do not want to deal with. However, history has shown that even the most devoted fans can be extremely fickle. One day they love you, the next day they do not. Yes, even his most ardent fans and Staples Center will boo him, if he is unable to meet their expectations.
I have tried to envision a scenario with a happy ending for Bryant and the Lakers. Right now, I just don't see how that can happen, and that makes me sad. The present team cannot even compete for a championship, and they will be fortunate if they get into the Playoffs. The coaching style of their present coach would not be compatible for even a much younger and healthier Bryant. He is under contract to play two more years, after this season. Something is going to have to give. When that decision day arrives, the results are not likely to be pleasant or popular. In the meantime, we can all keep hoping for the best.
Pasadena's most fortunate in that it will have two Bowl Games. The one on January 1, 2014, will be the traditional Rose Bowl game between Stanford and Michigan State. In my opinion all of the other Bowls pale in comparison to the one on New Year's Day. This is the one with the Floats in the world's most beautiful Parade. It tops everything else, and has rightfully earned the title, "The Granddaddy of all of the Bowl Games." At the center of the excitement will be David Shaw, the African American head coach of the Stanford Cardinal.
Then, one week later comes the National Championship Bowl between Number 1 Florida State and Number 2 Auburn. All four teams will bring plenty of visitors and Credit Cards to our fair city. If you have a business that caters to the public, then this could easily be your best week of the year.
Jameis Winston is the star quarterback of the Florida Seminoles. He is a rare talent, and the odds on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. He is, by far, the best college quarterback that I have seen this year.
I know that it is early, but I am going to make my picks right now. I am picking Stanford to beat Michigan State in a close game. I am picking Florida to beat Auburn by 40 points. Please do not bid your cookie money on my picks. I am not as good as I used to be.