Derek Fisher predicts Kobe Bryant will play in season opener
While his right wrist was bound in a plastic brace by a velcro strap, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant took a courtside seat and found one way to satisfy his basketball fix.
It went beyond just watching his teammates warm up before the Lakers' 108-103 preseason loss Wednesday to the Clippers. It also involved repeatedly dribbling the ball with his left hand. He then dribbled up to the corner three-point line and took a few left-handed shots. Just before he departed to the trainer's room to receive more treatment on the strained ligament in his right wrist, Bryant's last left-handed three-pointer swished right into the basket.
It served as the perfect metaphor for what longtime teammate Derek Fisher believes will happen regarding Bryant and the Lakers' season opener Christmas Day against the Chicago Bulls.
"He'll cut his wrist off and play with one before he misses Sunday," said Fisher.
The Lakers officially are listing Bryant as day-to-day. Coach Mike Brown, in coach-speak mode, maintains he hasn't "really thought about" whether Bryant will even practice Thursday, let alone play in the opener. And Brown sounded adamant that the Lakers' training staff, Bryant and the head coach himself will collectively decide whether he's healthy enough to put on the uniform.
But everyone who knows Bryant -- who has stubbornly and/or courageously played through knee, finger, ankle and back injuries through the past two seasons -- knows a strained ligament won't keep him off the court, no matter how severe. And with Bryant sitting courtside with a gray suit and black V-neck T-shirt, he clearly showed he remains ready to return.
He pumped his right fist after Andrew Bynum performed a spin move past Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. He sternly talked with Fisher during a timeout away from the team huddle, showing both his frustration with the team's play and itchiness to play. And did we already say we're talking about Kobe Bryant?
"This is per usual for him," Fisher said of Bryant, who injured his wrist after falling awkwardly on it in Monday's preseason game against the Clippers. "He's one of the toughest if not toughest guys I've ever known in terms of playing with or through injuries. He just figures it out. He doesn't use it as an excuse. Come Sunday, we'll have the best of whatever he can do for us. He'll be ready to go."
"I'm not a gambling person," Fisher said. "When I go to Vegas, I just visit family. If I were to go to Vegas and do something like that, I would probably bet he would play on Sunday."
-- Mark Medina
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