Kobe Bryant participates in Friday's practice
Moments after Lakers officials opened the team's practice facility to the media, Kobe Bryant drove into traffic and made a right-handed layup.
It would've been a ho-hum moment on any other day. But this happened only two days after Bryant's right wrist was diagnosed with a torn lunotriquetral ligament, which stabilizes two small bones on the outer part of the wrist.
Anyone even remotely familiar with Bryant's work ethic and competitive fire should not be surprised he's planning to play in the Lakers' season opener Sunday against the Chicago Bulls. It's more revealing about his determined approach, and perhaps the wrist's condition, that Bryant managed to complete a full practice Friday. He did so by adopting a simple strategy.
"Just really ignoring it," said Bryant, who will wear a padded device on his wrist for Sunday's game. "You just go out there and play your game and not think about it as much."
In a way, Bryant maintained this injury might prove to be easier than others. He said playing through a fractured right index finger two seasons ago proved to be "a little bit more complicated because it's the last point of contact with the ball. In this case, Bryant said he only had to make "subtle" albeit unspecified adjustments to his shot and ball handling. Coach Mike Brown and Lakers teammates say they hardly noticed.
"It didn't affect his game," Brown said. "I didn't see anything different. He's good to go. He's tough. He's a tough, tough man."
So tough that Lakers guard Derek Fisher doubts Bryant will hold anything back Sunday because of the injury. It'd be safe to think Bryant would mostly facilitate and drive to the basket to minimize the pain from shooting the ball. Fisher, who's known Bryant since the two were rookies in 1996, believes otherwise.
"I think he'll do the opposite, actually," Fisher said. "I think he'll prove right away probably from the first possession that he's fine and he's capable of making a shot from anywhere on the floor. So I wouldn't doubt him catching it, shooting it from 22 feet the first time when he touches it. Just to make sure you're all clear that he can make a shot."
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Photo: Despite sustaining an injury to his wrist, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has decided to play. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Associated Press