Kobe Bryant did not take part in the Lakers shootaround on Wednesday before facing the Timberwolves on Wednesday night because he is still going through the steps to be cleared to play in that game.
Steps he is close to clearing — the team says he has been symptom free since Tuesday afternoon and he may be given the green light to play Wednesday night. If he does, he’ll play in a mask to protect his broken nose, according to the Lakers.
The injury — a nose and concussion — came on a hard foul from Dwyane Wade in Sunday’s All-Star Game. Wade said has since apologized to Kobe, saying there was no intent to injure.
Kobe can play through the broken nose, but the concussion diagnosis changed the game and took matters out of the Lakers’ hands. The league’s new concussion policy this year says Kobe (or any player with a concussion) has to be symptom free for 24 hours before the game, pass a computer reaction test (measured against a baseline he took before the season) as well as some physical tests where the symptoms cannot return.
Here are the tweets from the Lakers.com official reporter Mike Trudell:
Kobe is “doing great” says LAL spokesman John Black. He’s been symptom free since last afternoon…. Kobe has passed all of the tests mandated thus far (neurological, bicycle, Axon and treadmill)…. Bottom line is that if Kobe passes the 2-on-2 hoops test now, & another w/neurologist pregame, he may well be able to play.
This will almost be a game time decision, but not one made by the Lakers and Kobe, rather one made by the league’s neurologist.
Normally, Kobe Bryant will play through anything — broken finger, torn wrist ligaments, even a broken nose can force him into street clothes. But the league’s new, stricter concussion policy may force him to sit out Wednesday night when the Lakers kick off the second half of the season against Minnesota.
Kobe is still feeling the effect of a hard foul by Dwyane Wade in the All-Star Game — one that left him with a broken nose and mild concussion. Kobe saw a specialist on Tuesday. Here is the official statement from the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant went to see ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. John Rehm on Tuesday after suffering a broken nose at Sunday’s All-Star game, and because Bryant is experiencing further symptoms, Dr. Rehm recommended an MRI and that Bryant see a neurologist.
Bryant, who did not practice with the team on Tuesday, is expected to see the neurologist and undergo the exam (Tuesday) afternoon; the Lakers will provide an update as soon as one becomes available.
During his All-Star weekend press conference, David Stern praised the league’s new concussion policy, which sets benchmarks for a player to return from one and likely will likely keep Bryant sidelined Wednesday. The neurologist must clear Kobe to play and do so in consultation with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, a neurologist at the University of Michigan, who heads the NBA’s new program (as pointed out by LA Times Lakers writer Mike Bresnahan). Getting cleared means being symptom free for 24 hours and showing no signs of the injury after some supervised exercise. If Kobe is still showing symptoms Tuesday afternoon, it’s not likely he plays Wednesday night.
Stern said that he liked the policy because it set clear guidelines that took the team off the hook and would force players to sit and not to play through a concussion. It looks like Kobe will be one of the test cases this season.
The Lakers play Friday then have a big showdown with Wade and the Heat Sunday at Staples Center.