LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant met the media before the Lakers faced the Heat on Christmas Day, providing the league-mandated update on how he’s recovering from the fractured bone in his knee that currently has him sidelined for an expected timetable of up to six weeks.
Many believe that when injuries occur to a different part of the body shortly after a player has suffered a major injury somewhere else that the two are related — the body may be somehow overcompensating, or not well-conditioned enough to withstand the game’s rigors after missing so much time.
Bryant was emphatic, however, when asked if his latest setback might be a result of pushing himself too hard, too soon.
“Because it’s Christmas I will refrain from being a smart ass,” he said. “I don’t think one had anything to do with the other. I mean, we evaluated it pretty extensively. The fact of the matter is, any of us can get hurt at any moment. The key for us as athletes is to block that fear out, and when you have injuries that fear is enhanced. You kind of put yourself under a microscope and you start thinking about it too much. It can happen to anybody. So you just have to tune that noise out and go out there and perform.”
Bryant believes he was beginning to play like his old self, and pointed to the circumstances of his 21-point performance in 33 minutes in his last game before the injury, a 96-92 win over the Grizzlies.
“It was a great test going up against Tony Allen, who in my opinion has been the guy who defended me the best individually since I’ve been in the league,” Bryant said. “And with four games in five nights, to be able to go up against him and respond to that challenge, I was feeling really good about things.”
The comments from fans and professional analysts alike declaring Bryant as washed and questioning whether he’ll be anywhere close to his former level of ability have not gone unnoticed by Bryant himself. And he seems to possess the same steely resolve to prove the doubters wrong, perhaps now more than ever.
“I feel more locked in now than I have my entire career because of this,” Bryant said. “My spirits are fine, focus is great and we’re just going to have to see what happens when I come back.”