Poll question: Should Kobe Bryant sit out the NBA All-Star game?
We now know Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is within strong possibility of missing Wednesday night's game against the Utah Jazz. And since we've debated for about a month now regarding whether Bryant should sit or rest his fractured right index finger and/or his recently sprained left ankle, well, the next inevitable question involves whether Bryant should sit out Sunday for the NBA All-Star game.
One thing is for sure: He's providing assistance of some sort for Lakers guard Shannon Brown on Saturday in the NBA Dunk Contest, but the state secrets remain classified. I can only safely guess that Brown wouldn't try to dunk over him because a.) Nate Robinson already did that last year over Dwight Howard and b.) Bryant did have recent back spasms.
But another thing remains uncertain. Even though Bryant will be in Dallas for All-Star weekend, he told reporters after the Lakers' win Tuesday against San Antonio that he'll keep all possibilities open for whether he'll play in what would be his 12th All-Star game. For the last three contests, Bryant hadn't made a firm decision until right before tipoff, so he could prolong the possibility that his ankle would heal enough come game time. Therefore, it's safe to say there won't be a definitive decision until this weekend, Sunday at the very latest.
That leads us to today's poll question on whether he should play in the NBA All-Star game. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson made light of another external pressure in the latest dissection of "Should-Kobe-play-or-rest-gate." "That's something the league has put such a priority on," Jackson said. "They're trying to draw 150,000 people to a game. It's a big deal. It's a revival meeting."
There's no question the league, Dallas, Nike and NBA fans would love to see him there. There's also no question Bryant would love testing out Jerry Jones' new digs at Cowboys Stadium. But the league isn't mandating that he play (if Bryant opted to play tonight but miss the All-Star game, well that could be a different story).
But if Bryant decides to remain on the sidelines, he would have 10 full days to further recover from his sprained left ankle in addition to any lingering effects of his fractured right index finger, back spasms and strained elbow. He wouldn't need to worry about playing until Tuesday against Golden State.
If Bryant indeed opts to play, new questions will emerge on how much he should play. Jackson, who coached the All-Star team as recently as last season, told The Times' Mike Bresnahan last week that he'd often ask players, "How many guys are 100% healthy and want to play through this thing in a regular rotation? How many guys have nagging injuries and want to go limited minutes? And how many guys just want to make an appearance?"That's something Bryant would have to address to Denver Coach George Karl, who recently joked (and I stress joked), "If we were playing them Tuesday after the All-Star game, I would" play Bryant a full 48 minutes. The Lakers play Golden State on Tuesday, not Denver, but that won't stop the sinister among us to think Karl, or any other opposing coach for that matter, would pull such a move. I don't think Bryant would have to worry about that, but his participation is surely a thing to ponder about in the days ahead.
That brings us to today's poll. Feel free to vote below and share your opinion in the comments section below.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: This uniform may just be for display only. Though Kobe Bryant was voted in as a Western Conference All-Star, he hasn't decided whether he'll make his 12th appearance because of a sprained left ankle. Credit: Andy Bernstein / NBAE