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Kobe Bryant makes right decision in opting out of NBA All-Star game

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He may have left the NBA, the fans, Jerry Jones and Nike disappointed. But Kobe Bryant's decision to opt out of what would be his 12th All-Star appearance on Sunday served as the right decision both for the Lakers, and more importantly, for his own well-being.

More details will emerge once Bryant discusses publicly how he reached his decision and what served as the tipping point when he knew it would be better off not to play, what with missing the past three games because of a sprained left ankle. But knowing Bryant's desire to always compete as well as his constant monitoring with trainer Gary Vitti, it's safe to say this was a difficult choice for Bryant to make.

There has been plenty of well-reasoned debate on whether Bryant should have rested earlier after going through a litany of injuries, including his fractured right index finger, back spasms and most recently his sprained left ankle. 

Regarding his index finger, I found it more concerning how Bryant would alter his role given that his fractured finger hurt his shooting and ball handling abilities than whether he should actually sit. Even if he wasn't at 100%, his on-court presence was invaluable. He had also made constant changes, going from wearing a splint, to taking it off and to putting it back on again to ensure the right balance of protecting his finger and maximizing his ability with a damaged part. 

Regarding his back spasms and sprained left ankle, Bryant held the criteria that he'd sit out only if he couldn't walk. That happened Jan. 12 against San Antonio where he missed the entire fourth quarter because of back spasms. Rather than accepting the likelihood that he'd be out, he had a personal trainer take a red-eye to give him massage treatment as early as 5 a.m. the next day. He laid on a pad throughout the first half the following day against Dallas and ending up shooting the game winner. 

Similar scares happened when Bryant initially sprained his left ankle Jan. 29 against Philadelphia, where he collided with Elton Brand. But he returned with no signs of it bothering him and then scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half. After Lamar Odom stepped on his ankle last week against Charlotte, Bryant returned in the second half and finished with only five points on two-of-12 shooting, though he did a better job setting up Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum inside. He then played against Denver, scoring 33 points on 11-of-22 shooting.  Ultimately, Bryant ended his streak of 235 consecutive games Saturday against Portland, saying later that the inflammation was hindering his movement. 

Bryant may have been stubborn with his finger because he knew he could still play through it. He was more cautionary, however, with his ankle and back because he knew he needs those body parts to function to ensure movement. And even though he tried fighting through it to the very end, fortunately Bryant recognized the value healing can do to an injured body. 

The Lakers and their fans will surely look forward to next week, possibly as early as Tuesday when the Lakers host against Golden State, to see a refreshed and recovered Bryant. That wouldn't have been fully possible had he decided to play Sunday in the All-Star game.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com.

Photo: Kobe Bryant, left, grimaces in pain after teammate Lamar Odom accidentally stepped on his ankle late in the first half of the Lakers' 99-97 victory over Charlotte on Wednesday night at Staples Center. Bryant returned to start the third quarter but lacked his usual quickness. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

 
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Good morning,

Hopefully, a team from the Centers for Disease Control has arrived in Los Angeles to formally quarantine all the Kobe haters and confine their access to the Internet. We've just witnessed the digital equivalent of H1N1.

The real issue facing the Lakers is the push by his assistants to have Phil start Lamar Odom and send Andrew Bynum to the 2nd unit. I, for one, have been advocating this for weeks. Considering that last season PJ actually benched Jordan Farmar when he needed a wakeup call, sending a strong message to AB17 is not without precedent.

This in no way questions Bynum's ability. It is undeniable. He simply has been unable to consistently add value to the starting unit. Putting Andrew on the floor with Pau, Kobe, Fish, and Artest in fact may simply be a case of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The other thing is that these guys are true warriors and Andrew is not. He simply has been unable to reach down deep and find the Shaq-like aggressiveness a starting center needs. Just like last season Farmar was at one point unable to overcome his immaturity, such is the case this season with Andrew.

This move would also improve the 2nd unit. It currently lacks a needed scorer. This is how Andrew sees himself, whether we like it or not. Playing Andrew with the bench mob would attract defenders, also creating better opportunities for UPS and Farmar.

This doesn't change my preference for Farmar with the starting unit. But considering how resistant Phil is to move Lamar and Andrew, I can't see him swapping Fish and Farmar at the same time, as much as I would like him to.

It's weird how all the focus has been on Kobe when for all practical purposes Andrew has been absent at the same time. Kobe will come back as resolved as ever. Andrew will come back focused on not getting hurt again. He'll be more comfortable without the pressure. Phil, listen to your assistants. Sometimes, you don't have all the answers. Go Lakers!

*
I SUPPORT KOBE BRYANT – BANDWAGON
*
(01) JUSTANOTHERMAMBAFAN – OWNER - I am completely disgusted at the State of the Blog recently. We have been infested with a strain of Kobe-Hater-itis that is not only contagious but especially virulent. The blog needs to be innoculated against such an agressive disease ASAP.
(02) CALIPHILOSOPHER – DRIVER - Justa - Thank you. Really, thank you for that.
(03) SEGEBOY(THE SHERIFF) - Dude seriously? What you think this is an espn blog? Save this crap for the birds cuz this here is mamba county. Kapish. Finals mvp, go by that, give him the benefit of the doubt based on that. Take a step back and think to yourself, 2 consecutive a. as some have mentioned, why not look at the other players and challenge them to be this aggressive when kobe's back and not revert to asking him for bailout shots. If memory serves me right this was the mindset of last year's squad
(04) JOHN MAILA – RIDING SHOTGUN - leave kobe alone and dont post here haters
(05) HECTORARTM – Kobe for Lebron? NO! Why would you trade a proven champion vs someone who
has never won anything? Leave the Lakers alone the way they are.
(06) WALLACE - I share your passionate defend of Kobe. These pundits think after 3 wins in a row after Kobe sat down to nurse his injuries, this team has a better chance of winning the championship! I said to all of you a few weeks ago, without Kobe, this team will not win a Western Conference Finals let alone the NBA Finals.
(07) RICK FRIEDMAN - . I've never seen such an infestation of no-nothing morons. Euthanasia is too kind. Hang them on a gallows constructed in front of Staples Center so we can stone them.
(08) VMAN - Again, playoff basketball Kobe is historically different from reg season Kobe. He'll come back doin' all the things mentioned in the article... as he's done and rarely gets credit for. AND btw, Lebron, DWade, Coach K et al, deferred to Kobe in the game that would be unthinkable to lose. Given similar circumstances, ya think Pau and Lamar are thinkin' gimme the ball and get the hell outa the way? When you can do it all, the hard part is deciding when to do what. Kobe will fit right in when he gets back.
(09) DJ - Couple quick things. Do you all remember the Gold Medal game? Watch the last quarter (or last 8-10 minutes of the game). No Kobe, no Gold!
(10) DAVE M. - Justa, I agree about the recent trend here on the blog. I don't think it's limited to Kobe however. I've noticed an increase in nastiness in general, whether aimed at players, coaches or those who post here. On the one hand, there's still plenty of great stuff to read and I have the utmost admiration for way too many bloggers to single out by name. On the other hand, the water seems to keep getting deeper and murkier.
(11) HOBBITMAGE - All of the Kobe haters focus on the number of shots Kobe has taken and they forget the rest. Call a spade a spade. You can cherry pick your 3 games where LO has shot the ball well while we play "team" ball & I can cherry pick 3 games
where we couldn't play "team" ball because our players couldn't shoot
a dead fish in a barrel.
(12) MITCH R. - I am amazed at how many idiots occupy this blog. Yeah, blame Kobe, the guy who has been instrumental in four NBA championships for other players shortcomings. Brilliant. No, he is not perfect. Yes, there are times when he overshoots. He is still in the top two in the game at the very least.
(13) TSPHERE - A further remind is the anecdote at the first team meeting to start training camp of the 2007-2008 season, where the hapless Lakers were wondering if Kobe wasn't going to be traded and absolutely nobody believed in the Lakers' future. Kobe stood up and said, "I'm Kobe Bryant and I'm here to win a championship". 9 months later they were in the finals, which they actually could have won, but for a psychological shock caused by seeing Pierce in a wheelchair in game 1 and an inexplicable meltdown in game 4. (Concerning Pierce in a wheelchair, something similar happened the following year when Yao was declared out for the remainder of the playoffs and the Lakers suddenly forgot how to beat a diminished team they were already dominating).
(14) MAYOR OF KOBE TOWN - Interesting line of thought, but completely wrong. Another in a long line of Kobe haters trying to get his 15 minutes. Where is the article questioning why Kobe's teammates didn't bother to play with this much effort and heart when Kobe was on the floor? Where is the article calling out the rest of the team for being lazy and relying too much on Kobe and only stepping up to play hard when he goes down for a few games?
(15) HEH8MEN1 - As a few astute commenters have intimated- play HARD and HUNGRY when the Mamba's in the PIT; and they'll ALL get FED.
(16) C-ROD - Ok, I'm tired of hearing this argument about how good the Lakers are withouth Kobe. What folks fail to mention is the number of times the "bench mob" when given minutes, come into the game and blow the Lakers' lead. This has happened countles times, frankly this wouldn't inspire me to trust them. The difference now is that the "bench mob" is solely responsible for scoring etc. they don't have Kobe to come in and clean up their mess. I mean let's get real, I haven't seen Sasha, prior to these last 3 games, come in and play like a professional and I think that's the KEY here these men are professionls getting paid good money to practice, train and be ready to play when called on. How many of us wait idly at our post in our respective jobs waiting for our lead/supervisor to be out in order for us to step up?! Give me a break.
(17) STANLEY WOODS - What an absolutely pathetic blog post. Kobe is the most unappreciated athlete in all of sports, and for the home paper to write such drivel about the reigning Finals MVP is quite honestly a joke. So the Lakers won 3 games (1 of which against Portland that was playing without Brandon Roy or Greg Oden, an old Spurs team that hasn't been playing well in weeks, and against Utah (their best win) that has no center to guard against Pau). Also remember, Kobe has not resigned and can test the free agency this summer. Are you trying to drive him away? What would you write about then? Lamar's candy? Maybe about MannyWoods post-roid decline? This Kobe led team was in first place when he sat down, even after playing his all through injuries, and carried the team on his back when Pau missed 17 games to start. How about Nov. 1st through the 12th. they won 6 games in a row, WITHOUT PAU GASOL, and Kobe scoring very efficiently in the post on over 50% shooting. (Once Pau and Bynum came back, there was no more room for him to play in the post, and so he moved back to the perimeter where he ultimately got re-injured) OR, how about November 17th to December 11th, where they went UNDEFEATED for 3 weeks WITHOUT PAU, and Kobe was the NBA Player of the Month Oh yeah, one more important thing that I have learned over the years from reading the internet: As soon as someone says. " don't get me wrong I am the biggest Kobe fan in the world" I immediately know they're not.
(18) PSYCORP - WHY CAN'T THE LAKERS PLAY HUSTLING LOCK-DOWN DEFENSE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME, WITH OR WITHOUT KOBE?

(19) JOHN LAKERS - Dont tell kobe what he should do TED GREEN and i dont know you either, do kobe know you? so if we breakdown all the 51 games played this season with kobe one by one, we should held liable all the lakers player who are lazy, cant make shots, cant make free throws at crunch time, cant rebound, push around by bigs of other teams, cant make layups, too many to mention, kobe is not perfect but i saw all the lakers game this season, he would average 8 assist a game if his teammates make those easy shots he dishes, now the lakers is successful without him on three games and THE TRADE KOBE is the discussion now, he should fit himself like he was from D LEAGUE to the lakers, wow kobe is the smartest of all the lakers, i hate to say this but pau is pushing kobe under the lakers org, DID PAU hear anything pau from kobe if he made mistakes, NO only "you are the most skilled player in the nba", kobe have graduate from all of this kind of issue, this should be an issue at all, how about we right FISHER CANT GUARD other guards, LAMARS inconsistency, PAU high TO AND FLOPPING
(20) CHUCK - Instead of worrying if Kobe learned anything about his team, maybe you should ask one simple question; why did his team choose these 3 games to play with passion, hustle and aggresiveness. Why did it take an injury to Kobe for them to wake up and realize they need to play hard every game, with or without Kobe. You can't have it two ways, you can't complain about Kobe taking the majority of the shots, yet sit there and watch him bail you out time and time again. One other little thing, I see how you left the fact that Bynum has been missing for these 3 games as well, yet you didn't seem to mention the fact that the Lakers are a better team with him. Nice job Teddy!
(21) LAKERS PRIDE - So, where are all these new named LakersBlog "fans" suddenly sprouting out from?? Looks like they're all ardent BSPN/media followers, who can't stand the thought and sight of Kobe's greatness. Once Kobe is down and Lakers play, all those trolls come here and start croaking and throwing trash on Kobe and spewing their hatred on him. So guys where were you all when we were winning, thanks to Kobe?? Where were you, when the "rest of the team" was stinking wen Kobe was on the bench taking a 2-min break. Why did PJ had to re-insert Kobe innumerable times late in the 4th qtr, to save the game?? Why could not this "team" play "team ball" and not let the double digit lead dwindle to a one-possession game??? That is Kobe's fault too?? Is he ball-hogging even when he's not on the field?? So, stop the crap that we're good without Kobe and all such stuff. Enjoy the wins when they come w/o Kobe, coz the opponents are not going to remain the same forever!
(21) : ZairaAmaterasu - trying to' assume Kobe's feelings and projects. Without knowing what he's keen at. Kobe dies to' win RINGS man. He doesn't need to' hear from you about that. He is always focused on that always. And about Lamar, and Pau and their skill, I remember like a month ago whom else??? Ah, yeah... KOBE pushing them and praising them saying they Are so talented they can do all. Hardly the praise of somebody blind or dismissive of them both, I think. But all this is wasted breath.
Keep the anti Kobe routine.Must be' the new Black on catwalks, right? This article is ridicolous and makes me feel in one of BSPN garbage cans online.
(22) MAMBA24 – IF THIS CRAP CONTINUES I SAY WE KOBE FANS PERFORM A MASS EXODUS TO FAITHS’S BLOG

Hey guys there's a new post up soon.

MM

This Blog should be officially closed.

Who are these no nothings that want to get rid of Bynum ! Kobe ! and Gasol !


Los Angeles has a real lack of knowlegeable NBA fans !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You're right, hobbit. The fact that Kobe, the best player on the team, doesn't run the offense himself, doesn't always pass when he should, that he doesn't stay in the proper position while on defense has absolutely no bearing on what anybody else does.

Posted by: exhelodrvr | February 11, 2010 at 05:57 PM

Ex, gotta call you out on that one. One of the uncharecteristically lame comments from you. For one, the Lakers only play the triangle abuot 70% of the time during games in which the announcers are banally saying "they ran the triangle last night", anyway. The pundits are not a real good source of the truth, and you know that, of all people.

Plus, we know that Kobe will break the triangle on purpose (and by design) during specific points and situations during games. AND, we already know that the Lakers can (and do, and did, and will) win an absurdly high percentage of games when Kobe lets the Mamba out.

The Lakers, Ex, as you know, win a LOT no matter which way Kobe plays. That is just the nature of things -- in the regular season.

Bring back your witty analysis when you post. Leave the knee-jerk stuff to the Trolls. That is what they are for. You are better than that.

--FEARless

I agree, in the big picture perspective, the question can be: What is effective for the Laker's legacy? What works?

Well, for starters, LO's spin move starting from the free throw line/ dunk finish is unstoppable! I liked that in the last came, he kept going for that move. It seemed fun to him.

If you're having fun, you're doing it right. When we see smiles on the Lakers, including Kobe, it's working.

Mamba24,

Please put me on the "I support Kobe Bryant Bandwagon."

When Kobe gets back we're going to tear the guts out of every team that dares defy us.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Mamba24,

"IF THIS CRAP CONTINUES I SAY WE KOBE FANS PERFORM A MASS EXODUS TO FAITHS’S BLOG"

Have heart, brother.

Every year this happens in one form or another.

There's an annual Troll infestation. It happens. We just have to deal with it.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Fearless,
You know as well as I do that the issue is that Kobe frequently doesn't look to exploit mismatches that his teammates have, but instead will try to get a shot himself. This often results in:

1) Passing the ball with noticeably less time on the shot clock, which decreases the options available at that point to the recipient of the pass OR

2) The mismatch that existed when the possession started is no longer there, which increases the likelihood that the eventual shot will be of a lower quality than what would have occurred OR

3) Kobe taking a difficult shot which has a lesser chance of success than the shot that could have been taken had his first action been to exploit someone else's mismatch and/or stay within the triangle.

That happens whether or not they are running the triangle on a particular possession. It doesn't happen all the time, and when it does happen, Kobe is good enough that he can make more of those difficult shots than anybody else in the league.

But it doesn't result in as good an outcome as could occur. And anything that negatively affects the outcome is justifiable grounds for criticism. Whether it's Kobe, Phil, Pau, Derek, etc.

It probably costs the Lakers several points a game, which would make a very significant effect in the W-L record. Enough to make a difference between winning a title or not? Who knows, but it certainly decreases the likelihood.

Kobe should have sat out after he injured his ankle the first time to get to 100%. The Lakers can play fairly good ball for a few games without him and his presence in the playoffs at 100% is vital to another run for the ring. I say sit him down for 2 weeks after the all star game so he can be fully healthy and use the remainder of the season as a tune up for the playoffs.

Labron for Kobe and Bynum is a joke really and anyone who thinks that would or should happen doesn't know basketball. Kobe will retire a Laker after 4-5 more seasons and hopefully 2-3 more rings and by then Bynum will be a major player in the NBA. Labron is great but that trade doesn't make sense at this point. In 2 more years yes but not now.

>>>Those infected need to say 10 Hail Kobe's and a few Our Phil's as soon as is
>>>humanly possible.

LOL

MAMBA!!!!!!!!!!

How is it possible you don't include me in the Support Kobe Bandwagon. HOW!?!? The biggest Kobe Homer this side of the Mississippi?

Come now!

--FEARless

My tag line should be thus: Kobe puts a dent in the Force whenever he steps on the court.

Caliphilosopher,

>>>Philosophy of Language
>>>Philosophical/Mathematical Logic (i.e. modal; deontic, set theory,
>>>non-classical systems)

Been there, done that. Nearly got the PhD.

Sold out to be a corporate tool for mo money.

Tsphere,

>>>Logical conclusion: Kobe is a handicap for the Lakers and Carmelo is a
>>>handicap for the Nuggets.

Yes, I see it now.

Explain to me again how if a woman is a witch, she floats on water, and since ducks float on water that if a woman weighs the same as a duck, she's a witch.

(it's a fair cop)

Thanks for your excellent commnent on this blog.

Yes we should analyze players without any prejudice. The best scenario is that if we can keep KB longer on the injured list we can prime our excellent players and by that time hopefully our ego player can learn to come down and play some team ball.

Great Posts John M and Jon K! Kobe needed the rest. He was playing at less than 70%. That made him a liability. Hopefully, with R&R, Kobe can heal in time for the playoffs. From a purely basketball perspective, every team in the league would love to have Kobe on their team. The Kobe haters are not basketball fans, they have a different agenda. Adam for Kwame?.....I love it...noone set better picks than Kwame (Kobe, Fish, Sasha, Shannon and and he remains one of the best defensive centers in the league. I was disappointed with how the team allowed the fans to rip Kwame a new ........

The three wins without Kobe have been unjustly compared to the 30 + wins with Kobe around. Yes the team has to work harder without the Mamba and that was a good challenge for them to prove themselves. But it is unfair to say that the team is better without Kobe. It was Kobe who set the example of playing with a heart, of dying to win a championship. The dedictaion to play even if he was hurting so fans get their money's worth, watch him on the court.
Go Kobe , no pressure when you return ; JUST DO IT !

Justa
From one to another!

Put me on the I support Kobe bandwagon please.

Kobe is one player who makes nBA inetresting. Wherever Lakers play haters and lovers flock just to see him or criticize him.

It is quite unfair to judge that the tLakers Team is better with the the 3 wins without Kobe vs the 30+ wins this season where Kobe played (at times with injury.) It was Kobe who helped brings out the best out of his team mates. They were challenged to prove themselves so they have to play hard and win without Kobe.

Wise decision!!

 
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