Finger surgery likely for Bryant
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant played the majority of last season with his right index finger taped up in a split after suffering an avulsion fracture in December and doesn't plan on doing it again. Bryant said he would likely have surgery on his finger when he returned from watching the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
"I'm going to talk with our staff here and [Lakers general manager] Mitch [Kupchak] as well and come up with a timeline to take care of some of the injuries that have been nagging me and things we need to address," Bryant said. "We'll do that before I leave."
Bryant was also bothered during the season by his twice-surgically repaired right knee but said it wasn't really an issue after he got it drained during the playoffs.
"The finger [was the problem]," Bryant said. "The knee was fine. Once we drained the knee it was fine or fine enough. The finger though was a constant problem. It was always around. I had to take the wrap around my entire finger and the hard splint underneath it so feeling the basketball was really tough. It was always a constant battle to adjust to it."
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Bryant said his surgery would "probably be something invasive" but didn't "expect it to be anything major."
In the past Bryant has been hesitant to have surgery during the season, such as two years ago when he had ligament damage in his right pinkie finger but didn't have surgery until after the Olympics.
"If it makes sense, I'm all for it," he said. "You have to look at the recovery time and look at what's going on. At that time it was during the season and I was playing fine with the pinkie so it's the start of the summer and I have plenty of time."
While it looks unlikely that Bryant will be with the USA National Team for next month's training camp and the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey, he wouldn't officially rule himself out until speaking with team doctors this week.
"I haven't spoken to [USA Basketball officials] yet," he said. "I'm waiting to meet with our staff first and talk about what we're going to do health-wise and then get back to USA Basketball and let them know what our plan is."
Bryant, however, will likely join Pau Gasol, who previously announced he would miss the World Championships, and rest this summer.
"We've been to the Finals three years in a row and add the Olympics and FIBA and I've been playing a great deal of basketball," Bryant said. "So this summer for me it's about getting healthy, I think that would give us the best opportunity to defend our title again. The same thing for Pau, because Pau's been going nonstop for the last 4-5 years. We all got to rest and recharge."
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.