Kobe Bryant is going to play Tuesday night in Game 5. Nobody really ever doubted that — if his leg was attached he was going.
We laud Kobe for that attitude, we like our athletes to be warriors.
But Kobe also refused X-rays and an MRI on his injury, according to ESPN Los Angeles’ Land o’ Lakers blog.
He doesn’t want the information on what might be wrong. He doesn’t want to hear an answer to the question, it may be the kind of news where the doctor would sit him, so he’s just going to play. Regardless.
Which may backfire. For Kobe and for the Lakers in a Game 5 that will go a long way to deciding the series.
Kobe didn’t speak to the media Monday and all Phil Jackson would say is his star guard is going to play. He sprained his ankle on a fluke play in the fourth quarter Sunday, running across the lane on defense and his toe just kind of caught on the court and his ankle twisted (after the game Kobe said it was more foot than ankle).
The Lakers would struggle without Kobe, but not as much as they will with a hobbling Kobe who keeps shooting despite missing because he can’t get elevation, who can’t defend Chris Paul (which would leave Derek Fisher and Steve Blake with the assignment).
The Lakers strength this series is inside. They don’t exploit it often enough (and Emeka Okafor stepped up last game for his best defensive effort) but the Lakers have that card. Whether they win Game 5 will largely depend on who wins that battle inside.
Kobe matters in this series, but if he plays through an injury that makes him a shadow of himself, it may be in a way he doesn’t want.