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Report: Kobe Bryant will not play in FIBA championships

July 5, 2010 |  9:24 pm
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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will not play in the FIBA World Championships in Turkey this summer, USA basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in an interview with AOL Fanhouse.

Bryant's absence extends to many on the 2008 Olympic team, which Colangelo says in the report will include all but Utah's Deron Williams and New Orlean's Chris Paul. Bryant hinted during his exit interview with the Lakers about the possibility of sitting out, speaking in general terms that "this summer for me is about getting healthy." But he didn't have a definitive answer because he planned to speak with Lakers management as well as the training staff before making such a decision.

This should serve as welcome news to Lakers fans, who had painfully witnessed Bryant fight through numerous injuries through the 2009-10 season, including an avulsion fracture to his right index finger, a sprained left ankle, a swollen right knee and back spasms. The knee affected him so much and limited his shooting to 31.5% shooting in the first three games of the first round against Oklahoma City, prompting him to drain his knee prior to the Lakers' Game 6 matchup against the Thunder. That procedure coincided with Bryant's resurgent play, which featured him scoring at least 30 points for the next five games and posting at least 30 points in 10 of the next 11 games. Bryant's finger didn't enjoy as much comfort, as he constantly tinkered with his splint in hopes that he'd still maintain touch and flexibility while not exposing the finger to additional harm. It remains unclear whether Bryant will have surgery on the finger, which eventually developed arthritis after the injury.

Bryant isn't the first Laker to consider health concerns entering the off-season.  After nursing two separate hamstring injuries, Lakers forward Pau Gasol decided to forgo playing in the FIBA championships with the Spanish national team. Despite having a left shoulder and right knee injury, Lakers forward Lamar Odom still plans to play in Turkey. But in Bryant's case, his decided absence speaks both to the severity of his injuries and the unusual reluctance in him forcing them to push him to the sideline. But with three consecutive Finals appearances, Lakers fans will surely prefer a healthy Bryant entering next season.

--Mark Medina

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

Photo: An AOL Fanhouse report says that Kobe Bryant won't participate in the FIBA World Championships this summer in Turkey. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.


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