Kobe Bryant played six minutes in the Lakers first exhibition game in London, after which he sat with ice on his knees.
Londoners chanted his name in the second half, but they got more Pau Gasol. Kobe played the six minutes he did out of obligation to the fans, his knees need more rest and recovery following offseason surgery.
Kobe said his knee was “extremely, extremely painful during the NBA Finals.” Said he feels better, but is at about “60%” tonight.
Kobe Bryant: “I wanted to get up and get in” when the chants came. “But I had the ice on the knees. Couldn’t get back in.”
Kobe did drag those knees to a finals MVP performance, but it’s another sign these Lakers are built to win now — the next handful of years — and then the window closes. Kobe is 32 with a lot of miles on him, Derek Fisher is 36 and Gasol, Artest, Odom, basically all the key Lakers outside Andrew Bynum are 30 or older. The Lakers may be younger than the Celtics but really only by a couple years.
Kobe will play sparingly in the preseason. Come Oct. 26 and the opener against the Rockets, expect 30 some minutes. Whether his knees are ready or not.