It has not been a stellar 60 hours for Kobe Bryant. After going into hero mode versus the Heat, chucking up a few clangers and losing, Bryant then put himself through a grueling post-game workout for over an hour in front of the media, which probably made him feel better about himself, but also was probably hard on the body. Then he puts up a 6-20 performance against the Mavs, but at least he got the win. The real problem, though happened in the third quarter. Bryant landed and severely turned his ankle.
There wasn’t any contact upon landing, the ankle just went out from underneath him. He had been battling an ankle injury this season, which had been an issue before the All-Star break. But this? This was pretty bad. Take a look for yourself.
Surely that would keep him out the rest of the game, right? No way. Bryant actually went to the locker room, had it taped, then returned to play, even hitting a tough bank shot from the corner. Granted, Bryant also went hero mode again and missed several step back jumpers and was blocked at one point by Shawn Marion, but you have to applaud the effort.
Post-game, Bryant told reporters that when the injury first occurred, he thought he had dislocated it:
“I thought I was done, like done. I was praying that when I stood up, my foot was lined up straight,” Bryant said. “I thought I dislocated it.”
Bryant said he plans on pushing himself like he usually does so that he doesn’t miss Monday’s game against the Magic.
“I’ll just do what I always do: don’t sleep, get treatment around the clock and I should be fine,” Bryant said.
But he did acknowledge he didn’t know if he would play, which is a change from his usual dismissal of whether he’ll play or not. Phil Jackson was even more skeptical, saying the sprain was pretty severe. Bryant could obviously use the rest, and while ankle injuries simply don’t heal without extensive rest, just a quick recharge of the batteries might be in order for Bryant.
Bryant definitely deserves credit for playing through the injury, showing once again why he has the best work ethic in the NBA. He could have done more to work in the flow of the offense upon coming back, instead of going into ISO mode for step-back J’s on a bad wheel, but considering his past success in such situations, it’s hard to find fault. After all, if they’d gone in, we’d be talking about what a gutsy performance he put on. And in the end, the Lakers got the win with some help from Andrew Bynum.
The fact remains, Bryant is feeling some wear and tear physically as the season progresses.