Video: Kobe getting his shoulder examined

January, 24, 2015
Jan 24
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
According to sources, the Los Angeles Lakers expect guard Kobe Bryant to miss the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff.

Bryant met with team doctor Steven Lombardo in Los Angeles on Friday. The Players' Tribune has the video from the visit, where Bryant was told, "It's torn, and it's pulled off the bone."

Lakers didn't treat aging superstar properly

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
SAN ANTONIO -- Kobe Bryant might have said it at a practice or a game, and he might have said it a month ago, or maybe longer. Byron Scott doesn't quite remember.

What the Lakers coach does remember is his star guard saying that his shoulder was bothering him.

“You all right?” Scott said he asked Bryant.

“I’m all right,” Bryant replied.

The two never talked about the issue again, Scott said.

Then Wednesday, in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Bryant tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, an injury that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season, though a final decision on that will be made early next week, likely Monday.

But Friday, before the Lakers’ 99-85 loss to the San Antonio Spurs here, Scott recounted two rather serious missteps regarding Bryant’s health that Scott said could very well be tied to Bryant’s latest ailment.

The first issue is well known: Scott simply played the 36-year old Bryant way too many minutes earlier this season -- a team-high 35.4 per night during the team’s first 27 games -- even though he said Bryant asked to play fewer minutes from the start.

[+] EnlargeKobe Bryant
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsInstead of employing a cautious Spurs-like approach, coach Byron Scott played Kobe Bryant too much early on.
“I don’t know if the wear and tear of playing so many minutes early is a result of what’s happening to him right now,” Scott said. “To be honest with you, I thought about that, it made me almost sick.”

Scott said he apologized to Bryant via text.

“His response was like, 'No, that ain’t it,'” Scott said. “He tried to make me feel better.”

Then Scott discussed Bryant’s nagging shoulder issue, which hadn’t been made public, and they brought it up again this week after Bryant appeared to tear his rotator cuff on what seemed to be a no-frills baseline dunk against the Pelicans.

“You remember when I said it?” Bryant said, according to Scott.

“Yeah, I remember,” Scott said.

“I think it was kind of hurting then and I just re-aggravated it on a much higher level,” Bryant replied.

Bryant has played through numerous injuries and said so again Wednesday.

“I’ve played on a torn labrum before,” he said. “I’m not too concerned about it.”

Bryant also basically played with just his left hand after suffering the injury Wednesday but said that wasn’t unusual. He said that he had played entire games left-handed before too, in 2003, 2004 and 2006 because of a separated shoulder.

But that was years ago. He’s aged plenty in NBA years, put on many more NBA miles and suffered two recent major injuries (Achilles and knee). So much is different.

Yet Kobe is still Kobe.

He still believes he can overcome because, well, he always has, even against great odds. The people around him -- namely Scott -- believe the same. At times, though, everyone seems to forget that Kobe Bryant is, first and foremost, human.

The usual protocol for a nagging injury, Scott said, is for a player to go talk to the team’s trainer, Gary Vitti. Does Scott know if Bryant ever did that? “I don’t,” Scott said.

In hindsight, these issues appear greatly troubling, because just as Bryant must treat every aspect of his health, training and diet so seriously at this age just so he can perform, so too must the Lakers, and especially Scott, be ever so cautious with him.

That’s all the more true because Bryant is the Lakers’ sole attraction during an awful season, the lone reason for fans to tune in or attend games, all they really have to look forward to until the draft lottery. From a business sense, Bryant is their cash cow -- their extremely well-paid cash cow -- and thus missteps are extremely costly.

Where does blame lie? Certainly some falls on Bryant. He’s as powerful as any figure within the Lakers’ organization and as powerful as any player within any NBA franchise. If he wanted to play fewer minutes, he could have. If he wanted to get his shoulder examined earlier, he could have. The only person who could’ve stopped Kobe was Kobe, but he didn’t, because Kobe is Kobe. He believes he will overcome.

So the blame truly falls on Scott, who hasn’t been shy about admitting his fault in the issue. And, to a greater degree, the blame truly falls on the entire organization for not stepping in at some point earlier on when Bryant was playing all those minutes.

If the Lakers wanted a good lesson in how to handle superstars late in their careers, they only needed to glance down the sideline Friday.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he started resting Tim Duncan after winning the championship in 1999 “because the following year Timmy had a bad knee going into the playoffs. We had to make a decision.”

Duncan was 23 years old at the time and had just played his second NBA season.

“The docs cleared him, he could probably play, but I didn’t let him,” Popovich said. “I held him out. I did that with the thought of wanting him to have as long of a career as he wanted to. I didn’t want to take a chance to send him out there and do more damage to it. We had playoffs. So it started way back then.”

Fast-forward to Friday, and Duncan, now 38, had 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in 20 tidy minutes as the Spurs rolled to a double-digit win.

Scott has talked about the Spurs being the “blueprint” for how to properly rest players, and Popovich talked about that blueprint, the one the Lakers didn’t follow.

“You have a long view in the sense that you think about it, you look at the schedule at the beginning of the year, that kind of thing,” Popovich said. “Because it depends on how much people played in the last three days or last night and what’s coming up in the schedule or who else is hurt or injured.

“It’s never about wins or losses, it’s not about that,” Popovich said. “You don’t overplay somebody to get the win. Sometimes you’re in circumstances where it happens, like the two triple-overtimes we had. That really skewed things for us. I hated watching those guys play all those minutes, but I guess it would have been sweeter if we won. In general, it’s a process and you talk about it daily and weekly.”

The phrases “It’s never about wins and losses” and “You don’t overplay somebody to get the win” appear to be exactly what the Lakers didn’t do with Bryant early on this season, even though this season was never headed anywhere to begin with.

Either way, Bryant is now hurt, likely gone for the season, facing yet another rehab, and it’s not clear how this will affect what should be his final season in the NBA.

“Nobody wants to see that happen,” said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili. “It sucks. The league needs him. He’s one of the best players that ever played.”

"When somebody like that of that stature goes down, it’s not good for everybody, obviously for his team but for the league and you miss guys like Derrick Rose for instance, the last couple of years, or Kobe or anybody else like that," Popovich said.

"It’s a loss for the league, for fans, for all of us. I can think of a lot of shots Kobe’s made that’s basically knocked us out, and in an odd, weird sort of way I still enjoy it. When you see a talent like that, when they don’t play anymore then you say ‘Wow, I got to see so and so play.’ He’s one of those kind of guys.”

Spurs guard Tony Parker agreed.

“When I first came here, Spurs-Lakers, that’s all we talked about,” Parker said. “It was a huge rivalry, with him and Shaq. Those were great years.

“They always say good stuff has to have an end, but hopefully we can see him one more time next year and he’ll be healthy and finish on a high.”

Hopefully, that will be the case. Hopefully, Bryant can recover and go out on his own terms, whatever those may be. But considering he’s now facing his third consecutive season-ending injury, a storybook ending may simply not be possible, even for someone with such an iron will as Kobe Bryant.

He’ll have his five rings, but a graceful exit could elude him, and it’s hard not to look back at this season and wonder why more wasn’t done to help him achieve that.

Spurs roll past Kobe-less Lakers 99-85

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23

SAN ANTONIO -- Tony Parker scored 17 points and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed in rolling to a 99-85 victory Friday night over a depleted Los Angeles Lakers team that potentially has lost Kobe Bryant for the season.

Kawhi Leonard had 15 points and 14 rebounds, Manu Ginobili scored 15 points and Tim Duncan added 14 points for San Antonio.

Nick Young scored 17 points to lead the Lakers, who lost their seventh straight. Rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson, a San Antonio native, had 11 points and four assists in his first career start.

Bryant tore his right rotator cuff Wednesday in New Orleans. The injury will be re-examined Monday before the Los Angeles Lakers decide whether the superstar guard needs potentially season-ending surgery.

(Read full post)

Spurs 99, Lakers 85: No Kobe, inspiration

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
SAN ANTONIO -- Remember Dec. 23, versus Golden State? The Lakers blew out the team with the NBA’s top record, and they did so without Kobe Bryant, creating plenty of chatter about whether they play better without their 36-year-old star, as many advanced statistics indicate.

Friday night wasn’t like that. Sure, the Lakers were again playing against top competition, the defending champion Spurs, and they were again without Bryant, who likely won’t play again this season after tearing the rotator cuff in his right shoulder this week.

But instead of playing inspired ball without their top attraction, as they did in December against the Warriors, the Lakers were simply bulldozed out of the AT&T Center, as they lost their season-high seventh straight game, dropping them to 12-32 this season.

Turning point: the Spurs led 9-0 from the start and by as much as 23 in the first half. The Lakers did cut the Spurs' lead to 10 early in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs reasserted themselves and put the Lakers away for good. The Lakers never led.

Player of the game: Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds. He didn’t seem to be trying that hard either.

New starting lineup: Lakers coach Byron Scott trotted out Jordan Clarkson at point guard, Wayne Ellington at shooting guard, Ryan Kelly at small forward, Jordan Hill at power forward and Robert Sacre at center. Only one of those players scored in double figures: Clarkson, the rookie, who made his first NBA start in his hometown and finished with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 29 minutes.

No love for Lin: For some reason, Scott decided not to play Jeremy Lin, who was healthy and available. It was a surprising move considering the game was such a blowout.

Top scorer: Nick Young led the Lakers with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting off the bench.

Kobe's season expected to be over

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23

The Los Angeles Lakers expect star Kobe Bryant to miss the remainder of the season with a torn rotator cuff, sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

Bryant met with team doctor Steven Lombardo in Los Angeles on Friday, and Lombardo found a significant tear in the rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Bryant is expected to take the weekend to decide whether to undergo surgery and has an appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, another Lakers doctor, on Monday.

Bryant suffered the tear during the second half of Wednesday night's loss to New Orleans, though sources said he has been dealing with the injury since the preseason.

Lakers coach Byron Scott didn't hide his concern about Bryant's future before Friday's 99-85 loss to the Spurs.

"Yeah, I'm worried," Scott said. "We all in the organization are worried about it."

Bryant, who has one year remaining on his contract with the Lakers for $25 million, apparently aggravated the injury with 4:14 left in the third quarter against the Pelicans when he drove baseline for a two-handed dunk.

"It felt fine when I went up, didn't feel too good when I came down," Bryant said after the game.

The 19-year veteran grabbed his shoulder as he ran back down the court and checked out of the game a few minutes later.

Bryant checked back in with five minutes left in the fourth quarter and immediately favored his shoulder. He tried to rebound and dribble with his left hand, but it became clear something was wrong when he shot and made a turnaround 14-foot jumper with just his left hand.

"Obviously after I saw that everything he did was with the left hand, I knew then, let's get him out of there," Scott said after the game.

Bryant tweeted Friday about the injury.

Scott said Friday that he believed Bryant, who played just six games last season after recovering from Achilles and knee injuries, could rehab another injury if need be.

"This is one of the toughest guys I've ever been around as far as dealing with injuries and things like that and being able to come back," Scott said. "Everybody said he was done after the Achilles and he came back pretty strong.

"Knowing him the way I know him, I know he doesn't want to go out this way. I think he'll rehab it if that's the case and then we'll have to wait and see."

Bryant, who was voted in as a Western Conference All-Star starter

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NBA Sounds of the Game

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23


Get close to the action in this the latest edition of Sounds of the Game.

Lakers might be better without Kobe

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23
By Ryan Feldman
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesKobe Bryant has a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
Kobe Bryant might be done for the season after MRI results showed a tear of the rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

Is it possible that the Lakers could improve as a team without Kobe? The numbers show that the Lakers have been a more efficient team this season when Kobe isn't on the floor, scoring four more points per 100 possessions and allowing 10 fewer points per 100 possessions without him.

The Lakers are 14 points per 100 possessions better with Kobe off the court this season than they are with Kobe on the court. Among all players with at least 1,000 minutes this season, only Kobe's teammate Jordan Hill has had a more negative effect on his team's production than Bryant himself.

Kobe ranks among the worst players in the league this season in a number of categories:
• 124th in field goal percentage (third-worst among qualified players)
• 103rd in 3-point percentage (fifth-worst)
• 74th in player efficiency rating
• 361st in win shares

Kobe's 0.1 win shares are the fewest of the 73 players to play at least 1,200 minutes this season. Win shares are an estimate of the number of wins a player contributes to his team based on his offense and defense.

Among the players with more win shares than Kobe this season are:
• Jonas Jerebko
• Alexis Ajinca
• Joel Freeland
• Jerome Jordan
• Dewayne Dedmon
• Charlie Villanueva
• Austin Rivers
• Damjan Rudez
• Furkan Aldemir

If Kobe misses the rest of the season, he will have the worst field goal percentage (37.3) in the last 50 seasons for a player who averaged at least 20 points per game. The current mark belongs to Allen Iverson, who shot 38.7 percent in 2003-04.

After the injury news dropped on Thursday, the All-Star Game starters were announced, and Kobe is among them. The numbers show that some very good Western Conference guards did not make the cut as starters. Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and Klay Thompson all rank in the top 25 in PER, while Kobe ranks 74th.

All-Star Game starters unveiled

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22

The Warriors' Stephen Curry has dethroned The King.

Curry made a late surge to pass LeBron James as the overall leading vote-getter for the NBA All-Star Game, the league announced Thursday.

"This means a lot; it's something that I don't take for granted," Curry said in a statement. "To have support of fans not only in the Bay Area but across the nation and across the world, supporting not only myself but our team, it means a lot. I want to represent the Warriors the best way I know how, every single game, and will do that proudly in New York thanks to the fans and their votes. Something that's definitely a dream come true, and to be two times in a row, I'm proud of that."

The star of the NBA-leading Warriors, Curry ended up with more than 1.5 million votes, more than 42,000 ahead of James, who had a 13,285-vote lead over the sharpshooter at the previous update. James was the leading vote-getter last year, preceded by Kobe Bryant in 2013. Curry, who just two years ago was an All-Star snub, becomes the first Warriors player elected to consecutive starts since Chris Mullin in 1991-92.

To his credit, James didn't seem too bothered about being unseated by Curry as the top vote-getter.

"It doesn't [get old] when it comes from the fans," James said Friday. "The fans, they create us, they help us, they love and cry and smile when we do things great, when we do things bad and all of that. So the least we can do is give them an opportunity to feel like they're huge part of our game by giving them the votes. So it's great to know that my fans have put me in the game."


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SAN ANTONIO -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant suffered a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder in the second half of Wednesday night's loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, an MRI exam revealed Thursday, putting the rest of his season in jeopardy.

The Lakers said Bryant will return to Los Angeles and will be examined by team doctors Friday instead of playing that night against the Spurs. The team said an update on Bryant's condition would be issued then. 

Sources told that Bryant will miss the rest of the season if it is determined he needs surgery. There is strong concern within the organization that is indeed the case, the sources said.

Bryant has been dealing with this shoulder injury since the preseason, sources said.

He apparently aggravated it with 4:14 left in the third quarter against the Pelicans when he drove baseline for a two-handed dunk.

"It felt fine when I went up, didn't feel too good when I came down," Bryant said after the game. 

He grabbed his shoulder as he ran back down the court and checked out of the game a few minutes later.

Bryant checked back in with five minutes left in the fourth quarter and immediately favored his shoulder. He tried to rebound and dribble with his left hand, but it became clear something was wrong when he shot and made a turnaround 14-foot jumper with just his left hand.

"Obviously after I saw that everything he did was with the left hand, I knew then, let's get him out of there," Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the game.

Scott spoke to reporters at practice Thursday before knowing the MRI results, and he declined to state any plans without knowing those results.

(Read full post)

Will Ferrell hits cheerleader with a basketball (for a movie)

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
NEW ORLEANS -- Wednesday's halftime show at the Smoothie King Center wasn't typical by any means. There were no trained dogs or stacking bowls. Instead, fans attending the New Orleans Pelicans' 96-80 win over the Los Angeles Lakers were treated to something special -- Will Ferrell throwing a ball at a cheerleader's face.

It was all part of the filming for an upcoming movie, "Daddy's Home," which stars Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, who was also in attendance. After pegging the cheerleader, Ferrell's character was then immediately carried off the court to cheers from the crowd.

3 Points: Pondering Jeremy Lin's future

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
Jeremy LinBarry Gossage/NBAE/Getty ImagesJeremy Lin has been inconsistent this season coming off the bench for the Lakers.

Each week, Lakers beat writer Baxter Holmes, along with NBA writers Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi, will weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Los Angeles Lakers followers.

1. Has Jeremy Lin done enough to warrant staying with the Lakers beyond this season?

Holmes: No. There have been a handful of games in which Lin has looked like a player worth keeping, but then there have been many others in which it seems as if acquiring him was a mistake. Even on a bad team, he has been wildly inconsistent, and, as coach Byron Scott has said, Lin still has a lot to prove. At the moment, I'm not sure he has done enough to be considered a player the Lakers should consider in their future plans.


Do you want the Lakers to bring back Jeremy Lin next season?


Discuss (Total votes: 2,699)

Shelburne: No. While he has shown flashes of solid, steady play, he hasn't done enough to warrant a significant financial investment by the Lakers this summer. Frankly, I don't know that he'd even want to stay considering he's not starting and has noticeably had trouble playing alongside Kobe Bryant.

Markazi: I think there's room for a backup point guard such as Lin on this team, but I'm sure he wants to try his hand at being a starter again and going to a team that will give him that opportunity. If he can't find that elsewhere or a better deal, I don't see why the Lakers wouldn't want him back as a reserve.

2. Is Kobe Bryant really considering the idea of retiring before his contract expires?

Holmes: As he said, I'm sure the idea has crossed his mind, but the Lakers fully expect Bryant to play out his contract -- and he knows that. I also have a hard time seeing him walk away from $25 million next season. Even if he's wealthy, he's a smart businessman and won't leave that on the table. Besides, if Bryant truly wanted to hang it up at season's end, I think he'd be playing more games instead of going along with this plan of trying to preserve him for what should be his 20th and final NBA season.

[+] EnlargeBryant
Harry How/Getty ImagesKobe Bryant's struggles are apparent in terms of the punishment his body takes, but would he walk away early?
Shelburne: Yes, but not all that seriously right now. It's something I'm sure he has been thinking about for a few years now. But as long as he still feels as if he can go out and have an impact on the game, he's at least going to play out his contract. Not to mention, he definitely won't want to end his career on such a low note.

Markazi: I don't think so. Has the thought crossed his mind? Surely. But he signed a two-year deal and is due to make a league-high $25 million next season. It will also be his 20th season in the league and will also allow him to receive a proper farewell tour. I'm not saying that's why he's coming back, but I think he knows that's important to the Lakers and one of the big reasons they signed him for two years, and playing 20 seasons, all with the Lakers, is also significant. I think he and the team are doing their best to make sure he gets to next season in one piece.

3. Should the Lakers begin their rebuilding process sooner rather than later and trade current players to improve their cap space?

[+] EnlargeMitch Kupchak
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsLakers GM Mitch Kupchak will have to decide whether clearing more cap space is a priority.
Holmes: There is still time. They'll have enough money to offer a max contract to one free agent this summer, and some high-profile names will be out there (Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo). They're also in decent position to keep their top five-protected pick. Beyond that, they'll be in better shape when Kobe comes off the books in the summer of 2016. Then again, patience isn't something the Lakers are known for.

Shelburne: Yes. The Lakers might feel good about themselves for making good bets on players such as Ed Davis, Tarik Black and Wayne Ellington this offseason. But if they're not prepared to pay a lot more money to keep them this summer, they have to think about trading them for future assets (draft picks or players under contract) they'll be able to keep beyond this season. Finding a diamond in the rough is only good if you can actually keep that diamond after things aren't as rough. Witness Jodie Meeks last season. He had a career season, then left for a rich free-agent contract in Detroit, and the Lakers got nothing in return.

Markazi: If they can get draft picks for players such as Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson, who might be coveted by some contending teams, I think they should do it. Acquiring draft picks and clearing cap room for next season accomplishes two goals with one move.

'I’m doing some pretty phenomenal things'

January, 21, 2015
Jan 21
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
NEW ORLEANS -- Lakers coach Byron Scott said he'll continue to play Kobe Bryant in spots and on a minutes limit in an effort to help Bryant recover from playing too much earlier in the season.

Bryant, who averaged a team-high 35.4 minutes during the team's first 27 games, said he isn't sure when his body will feel as good as before, but he tried to downplay talk of fatigue.

"We make a lot of it, but the reality is, I’m doing some pretty phenomenal things in 30 minutes," Bryant said Wednesday after the Lakers' 96-80 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans here, his first game in nearly a week after sitting out two straight games to rest. "My body is not that [expletive] up."

Before Wednesday, Bryant had missed five of the team's previous eight games and eight of its past 15. Could this pattern of missing chunks of games lead to Bryant being in the lineup consistently again?

"I could play every game, yeah," Bryant said after scoring 14 points in 30 minutes against the Pelicans. "It’s just really Byron’s call, what he wants to do. Some games he wants me to rest, some games he doesn’t. It doesn’t really matter to me. I’m good either way."

Bryant also said that being out for a lengthy time and then returning isn't too much of an issue.

"It’s nothing for me," he said. "It’s like riding a bike. I get out there, I make plays. Some games we knock down shots, some games we don’t. The way I’m playing right now is really like riding a bike. It’s not overly complicated."

"I just read the defense and see what they’re giving up and try to make them play. No different than quarterbacks sitting in the pocket. Just trying to make the right reads and make the right plays."

The Lakers have their mindset on the future, specifically 2015-16, the last season on Bryant's contract and also likely his last in the NBA. But he said he doesn't look too far ahead.

"Honestly, it’s my job to be ready every night," Bryant said. "I just try to do my part, make sure I rest, make sure I get to stretch, make sure I do the strength training and all that stuff. Whatever call he makes, he makes ... but it’s my job to be ready."



Kobe Bryant
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.5
BlocksE. Davis 1.2