Back from an injury that sidelined 18-year NBA veteran Kobe Bryant (+6 @ 61 pts.), the Lakers(+17 @ 77 pts.) leading scorer returned for his season debut against the Raptors (-5 @ 42 pts.).  The media build-up was impressive with even the coach suggesting the pre-game hype might be too much for even Kobe to live up to.

And as it turns out, Kobe was Kobe, scoring 20 points and even managing a few dunks!  But the Lakers couldn’t connect, which is pretty much par for their current season, and they lost to the Raptors.

Kobe Bryant Media Snapshot

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As you can see from the above media snapshot on Kobe Bryant, the brand pulled $6.3M in media value for the current month, up significantly (+$4M) over the prior month.  TrendSignal value is also strong at 61 points with momentum stable.

Lakers vs. Raptors Media Comparison

The Lakers have generated amazing momentum over the trailing 12-month period versus the Raptors. They are  up +13 over the prior year and up +17 over the prior month riding the media wave of  Kobe Bryant’s return.

As for long-term media prominence, the Kobe Bryant brand has been pulling a 61 TrendSignal average over the trailing 12-month period leading up to his return, with a 12-month high of 67.  Overall, for an DL’d player on the Lakers, his media prominence was surprisingly high, and consistent.

A review of the traditional coverage and social media discussions during the recovery clearly indicate an athlete brand that was tracked closely.  For the sports media this is not unusual for a player/brand that has a strong impact on the game, but all social media segments showed the same consistent TrendSignal pull.  All-in-all, a Kobe Bryant is a solid brand in the media with significant draw even off the court.

Kobe Bryant said he was “pleased” with the way his body responded Sunday, playing in his first NBA game in nearly eight months since tearing the Achilles tendon in his left leg, but the warm and fuzzy feelings ended there.

After some critical self-evaluations of his first game back for the season, Kobe Bryant tossed out the best quote of the post-game news conference:  “I think the last time I had eight months off I was still in the womb,” he said. “So it felt good to get out there.”