Kobe Bryant joins Lakers practice Thursday (kind of)
Kobe Bryant’s practice time Thursday was limited. But don’t worry Laker fans, it’s not because his strained right shoulder has worsened.
“He was dressed for practice, but we didn’t really practice,” Coach Mike Brown said after the short walk-through at the team’s facility in El Segundo. “He had his jersey on and everything. But I knew today was more of a mental day, so I didn’t even really ask (trainer Gary Vitti) what he could and couldn’t do.”
Still, the Lakers aren’t worried about the shoulder injury that kept Bryant out of the team’s preseason loss Wednesday to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Both Brown and Bryant expect he will play Saturday when the Lakers host the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. It’s critical that both are in agreement about Bryant’s status. After all, Brown said that he overruled Bryant on whether he could suit up against the Trail Blazers.
“He asked, ‘What if I want to fight you on it?’ I said, ‘You can fight me all you want on it. It’s done.’ He goes, ‘Oh, it’s like that,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s like that.’ He always wants to play. He’s competitive. It’s his nature.”
Bryant didn’t speak with reporters after Thursday’s practice, but he said prior to Wednesday’s game that he injured the shoulder after dunking on Antawn Jamison during Tuesday’s practice.
He didn’t feel any pain right away and spoke to reporters for 15 minutes afterward, and then had an hour-long workout with player development coach Phil Handy, where he worked on ball handling and shooting drills.
“Later on in the evening, that’s when it kicked in,” Bryant said. “On the dunk, that’s when the arm basically went back.”
Bryant wore tape along both the front and back of his shoulder. He was also attached to an electric-simulation machine. Bryant, who says he didn’t need an MRI, didn’t sound concerned about his injury.
Even if it was limited, Bryant’s on-court participation in Thursday’s practice proves that.
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