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.