A-Rod: Kobe Bryant considered retirement last season
The lasting image behind the Lakers' four-game sweep to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals hardly jibed with Kobe Bryant's legacy.
He missed a game-winning shot in Game 1. Bryant's surgically repaired right knee and sprained left ankle limited his on-court explosiveness. His 23.25 points on 45.7% shooting showed he couldn't overcome double teams and fatigue. It would've hardly been the best way to end a storied career. Just ask Phil Jackson.
Yet, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez told reporters Saturday that Bryant told him the pain in his right knee and ankle felt so overwhelming that he considered retiring. That is, until an innovative procedure in Germany this off-season on both his right knee and left ankle fixed everything.
Bryant "was really adamant about how great the procedure was for him," Rodriguez told reporters. "I know that he was hurting before, almost even thinking about retirement, that's how much pain he was under. And then he said after he went to Germany he felt like a 27-year-old again. I was still a little apprehensive about it and he kept staying on me about it."
Last season, Bryant's 25.3 points per game marked his lowest statistical output since the 2003-04 campaign. He played 33.9 minutes per game so he could preserve his energy for the playoffs. Bryant sat out of most practices. Although he downplayed them, Bryant's on-court movement indicated he wanted to minimize further pain to his surgically repaired right knee and sprained left ankle.
This season, Bryant leads the league in scoring (28.4 ppg). He logs 38 minutes per game. Bryant plays in most practices. He hardly shows a torn ligament in his right wrist bothers him.
Bryant's procedure involved receiving platelet-rich plasma injections. Doctors removed blood from the affected area and spun it in a centrifuge. The interleukin antagonists were then removed to create a serum to inject back into the targeted area.
"I gave him the phone number," Bryant said in December regarding his conversations with Rodriguez. "I just told him it made a huge difference for me."
So much of a difference, Bryant hardly thinks about retirement.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers stars Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum share a laugh during a break at All-Star practice on Saturday in Orlando. Credit: Lynne Sladky / Associated Press