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Kobe Bryant feared off-season surgery for index finger would entail long recovery process

Whenever Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives the lane this season and receives a whack on his right index finger, he'll expect it to hurt for a minute or two. But he predicts the impact will be as short-lived as the sequence that set up the contact.

"It's not going to be any worse than it was last year," Bryant said Saturday at the team's practice facility in El Segundo, where the Lakers opened up training camp. "It feels a lot stronger. Overall, it feels good."

That wasn't the case last season. After suffering an avulsion fracture Dec. 11 against Minnesota, he expected the pain to be minimal. It didn't turn out that way. Bryant constantly tinkered with his splint, trying to find the proper balance between protecting his finger and maintaining his ability to grip the ball. His shooting percentage suffered. And the original timetable for when the finger was expected to be fully healed went from six weeks, which Bryant managed to play through, to indefinite, with Bryant eventually developing arthritis in the knuckle of that right index finger during the postseason.

When asked during his exit interview what injury hurt the most among his assorted dings during the 2009-10 season -- the finger, the sprained left ankle, the swollen right knee, the periodic back spasms -- Bryant didn't hesitate with his response. "The finger," he said. "Once we drained the knee, it was fine. Fine enough. The finger, though, was a constant problem. It was always around."

That's why the casual observer might think Bryant would have had off-season surgery on the finger, especially considering he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Not so. While Bryant said the knee has felt "strong" since undergoing the procedure, he feared that any work on his index finger would've entailed a drawn-out rehabilitation process.

"The surgery takes too long to recover with the kind of surgery I need to do to fix it," Bryant said. "I would just miss too much of the season. It didn't make sense. To miss so much of the season I could play with doesn't make any sense."

In fact, there was a strong possibility Bryant would have missed time. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said that Chip Schaefer, the team's director of athletic performance/player development and strength coach, told him nearly six weeks ago he thought Bryant would miss the entire preseason because of the rehab process with his knee. Because Bryant has "been working hard the past month," as Jackson put it, he plans to play him when the Lakers begin their preseason schedule with stops in London on Oct. 4 against the Minnesota Timberwolves and in Spain on Oct. 7 against Regal FC Barcelona.

Said Jackson: "Just recently Kobe said he’s starting to move and feel the right way."

That hardly sums up Bryant's finger during the 2009-10 season, considering all the adjustments he made throughout the season. But Bryant insists that won't be an issue this season. He doesn't plan on wearing a splint and believes he'll only need to wrap it. He insists the pain will be mild. And when asked by The Times' Mark Heisler if he needed to discipline himself on setting his own limits, Bryant shrugged his shoulders.

"I just have to win," he said. "I just have to figure out a way." 

The first step toward that process entailed ensuring that Bryant would remain on the court, a scenario he says wouldn't have been possible with off-season surgery on the finger. 

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at


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My MAN Kobe 'Black Mamba' Bryant...

"Just suck up the pain and deal with it"

Now is that Kobe in a nutshell...

Kobe will be GOAT when it's all said and done...

#17 Coming Up...


Agree on Kobe!

Kobe is DA MAN!!!!
1 more ring, just one...and he'll get a seat among the greatest of all times.


Thanks for the media links on the previous thread. I really enjoyed listening to all of them. What stuck out to me was Barnes' demeanor and eloquency. He sounds a lot more mature than he appears.
Also Fisher sounds like he may want to become a GM in the future. That's what I got from his comments regarding free agency.
Kobe being Kobe. "I want to win" Leadership style since he was 12! Not willing to miss significant time rehabbing the finger. Tell me he considers the 82 games a "preseason". He's turbo charged from now until the final whistle. Please give Drew some of that water!
I do like Bynum's goals: All-Star, play more games, and be healthy during the playoffs.

I do like Bynum's goals: All-Star, play more games, and be healthy during the playoffs.

Posted by: Laker J | September 25, 2010 at 04:56 PM


Laker J, I believe Bynum's goal is to prove everybody he can play most of the season without getting involved with injuries. Having him healthy in the playoffs is, obviously, very important, but he needs to prove that he can make the difference not only in the playoffs, but also in the regular season. Those constant injuries he've been experienced is raising a lot of eyebrowns...

I have his back. Let's see...

Those HS assignments are really taking a toll on you. Great question on Kobe shouldering too much of the load last year, but like he said, he just wants to win. Now go get some rest, you've aged significantly.

"I just have to win," he said.


Dang! We're so fortunate to have this guy in L.A. Buss just continues to deliver the goods to Laker fans everywhere!


That's what we all hope, including the FO. An injury free season so that he can play to his potential and ability. Of course, the end result will be another championship.
MM, you know I was kidding about my last post. LOL

Here is what Steve BLaker looks like in the new uni...

Even are the pics from media day...

Laker J -- lol aged significantly? taken a toll on me? can't say i know what you mean

The reason Kobe Bryant is the greatest player on the planet is that he simply wants it more than any other player. His unparalleled work ethic, fierce competitive spirit, and unquenchable desire to win are what have propelled him to the ultimate heights of his profession. They are also why this Lakers team are back-to-back two-time NBA champions and the smart analysts’ pick to three-peat.
I view the Lakers as a tested finished product – an experienced veteran team that has proven it knows how to win championships and when healthy enjoys a huge edge in length and talent over every other team in the league. I view the Miami Heat, on the other hand, as nothing more than an untested work in progress that so far exists only on paper. That’s why I laugh and cringe at the prognosticators who seem to take for granted that the Heat will be a great team merely because they are talented.
If you loved how Andrew Bynum stood tall playing in pain to help the Lakers win the championship and appreciate the heart he showed, then just be thankful that the doctors think they were able to fix his knee so that the problem won’t return again and understand and respect that the additional knee damage was most likely due to Drew aggravating it by playing on it throughout the playoffs. Would you have preferred that he opted to get an operation and miss the playoffs but be ready now?
I don’t begrudge Drew taking off some time, especially since Phil and the team encouraged him. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish that he were ready for camp. Obviously, one of the biggest interests I have now as a Lakers fan is watching Drew play. Anyway, it is what it is and all we can do is hope and pray that Drew comes back 100% healthy and quickly becomes the beast we know he can be. I agree he needs to show he can avoid injuries and become a dominating force at the center position

Hey this you in this pic with Odom...

@LakerTom -

I concur with everything on your excellent post...This will be a great season...Probably the most anticipated ever, since Riley guaranteed a back to back...

#17 Coming Up...

Laker J,

That is the best we can wish for Drew to be available during All Stars all the way to the playoffs. How can he be chosen to be in the ASG if he's coming back by January. Therefore, I'd say keep up with the commitment with the Lakers first before dreaming on personal gains.

Reading Kobe's attitude in handling his injuries and his decisions in confronting injuries is diametrically opposite than the 23 year old kid. Kobe carries this team, he considers his knees as priorities than attend to avulsion fructure on fingers which may affect his presence during the initial months. On the latter, he found ways how to go around with the adversity and thanks to Chuck Person who taught him how to shoot the ball using the middle finger as the guide instead of the index finger. (See interview on Sports Illustrated) Kobe did his homework and spent hours and hours to train this new technique. I don't know the extent of their injuries and the recuperation period, but glad Kobe is ready even at the start of preseason while our young star will again miss the preseason. Kobe knows his importance to the team and Jerry Buss is really getting his money's worth with the Superstar.

I agree Bynum helped us during the playoffs, his presence alone gave some defensive nightmares on part of the opponents. Aren't we proud with our young player? Absolutely, however I think we were lucky to lick all our opponents while our players from Kobe, Bynum, Artest, Brown and LO sustained during the end of the season, I really thought they would be eliminated in the Thunder series did not recover in OK. Shall we extend that kind of luck again in 2010-11? We all love my Lakers and in my case, I don't want to depend on luck. If Bynum was healthy from the start of the playoffs, maybe the Finals would have ended on Game 6. No we went for Game 7 and Celtics gave us some thrill for 3 quarters before the heroic shots of Artest and Fisher sealed the deal in the last quarter. As avid Laker fans and lakerholics too, we don't want fantasizing on our chances by just being positive; we don't want question marks developing; we don't want drama evolving from wins and losses; we want to be ready at the opening bell. Winning 3-peat should be sold in the mindset of all players from the get-go while athleticism and physical prowess proves or executes what the mind has already formulated all year round.

"I just have to win," Kobe said.

This gave me goosebumps, let's go LAKERS!


LEWSTRS - Nope you got the wrong guy. Maybe next time! hah

Hey guys we got a post up about Matt Barnes

Kobe knows his limits and made a good decision
Tony Sassi

Do NBA rules allow any kind of glove or partial glove aparatus?

As great as Kobe's quote sounds, "I have to win," I think the question was pretty valid. No one is doubting Kobe's work ethic and abilities. But there is a fine line for him where he has to accept and recognize what the finger exactly will entail. He insists it won't be a big deal. Fine. But IF it does, he needs to adjust and not keep making it worse. Part of his brilliance and reason why hes excelled is his willingness to fail in order to meet a challenge. But why I think he also needs to recognize when that's not always the best approach is what happened with his finger last year. He easily could've sat during the December and January games which essentially meant little for the Lakers to at least alleviate the finger, if not have surgery. But by insisting to play and subsequently making it worse, it remained an issue until the second round of the playoffs.


From what I have read and been told, the avulsion fracture Kobe sustained had little to do with the middle knuckle that he has the arthritis in. From what I have gathered, it was that there is very little cartilage left in his middle knuckle and it was that way long before he sustained the fracture. I may be wrong but again after reading and listening to medical professionals speak of his avulsion fracture, surgery is rarely performed. Maybe if he would have at least sat out for a while it would have healed a little faster but with his drive to win, he just couldn't do it. I don't really see his finger being an issue this year and with the additions to the team, his minutes should go down hopefully.

For a legend like Kobe, pain is just one more challenge to rise above!!

You're pretty much right. I had a similar avulsion fracture and doing surgery is iffy. My doctor advised simply splinting it and allowing it to heal. It turned out okay, a little knobby and it'll never be `100% but it's not bad. In Kobe's case, he didn't allow it to heal - it takes about 6 weeks and he went back out there very soon after the injury and just continued to play, trying and discarding different types of splints, totally stressing it out and subjecting it to a lot of abuse. His knuckle was already pre-athritic and the addded stress and compensation for the broken finger compounded the larger deterioration. There are surgeries than can be attempted, including reconstruction and grafts, etc., but there's no guarantees and there would be a lengthy healing period.

I want to see Artest and Barnes bang against each other for beta male status!

I hope Fish teaches Barnes how to foul more covertly...I mean play tough 'playoff' defense.

Lakers remind me of the old Celtics, the media would promote some other team, but come playoff, the Celtics would teach you all over again that teamwork, poise and defense win. Not that I'm a Celtics fan.

I like the low-key approach the Lakers are taking. Put the limelight on the Heat..its tiring to be a media darling...we'll just see you in the playoffs.

Hey why not have Artest shadow Lebron, and Barnes draped all over DWade, while Kobe is free to score...and dish to the bigs
Fan since the '81 baby-hook



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