Kobe Bryant refuses tests on ankle
"He says he'll play," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Bryant's status for Tuesday's pivotal Game 5 with the Lakers' first-round series tied 2-2.
Bryant's injury occurred late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 93-88 Game 4 loss to the New Orleans Hornets while Bryant was defending Hornets guard Willie Green. He turned his ankle over and fell into Green, causing a foul.
Bryant spent Monday undergoing extensive treatment on the ankle, according to Jackson, including icing, electrostimulation and massage.
Bryant declined to undergo any further examination of the injury through X-rays or an MRI, going against the wishes of the Lakers front office.
"Right now, he's not," Jackson said. "We're trying to convince him that it might be a good idea."
When asked what the Lakers' medical staff thought of Bryant's injury, Jackson said, "He won't let them deal with it."
Bryant has a history of seeking private medical consultation away from the team. He privately arranged surgery for his right knee last summer.
Jackson said that if diagnostic tests revealed any more serious injury, it would not affect Bryant's decision to suit up for Tuesday.
"It doesn't matter, he's going to play anyway," Jackson said.
Bryant did not speak to reporters on Monday. The back-to-back Finals MVP declared he would play following Game 4, however.
"I should play," Bryant said. "It's going to take a lot to stop me from playing.
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"I'm concerned, as I am about any injury, but I've played through so many of them it kind of becomes old hat for me."
Bryant came into Sunday's on the Lakers injury list as playing with a sprained left ankle already.
Bryant suffered what he described as the "scariest" ankle sprain of his 15-year career in a game versus the Dallas Mavericks on March 12, but he played through it, not missing any games.
Bryant said that the sprain he suffered against New Orleans feels different than the one he had against Dallas, however.
"It's more my foot," Bryant said. "It's not really my ankle. It's my foot ... I don't really hurt that too often, so, it's a little different for me."
The team maintained Monday that it is a left ankle injury for Bryant and not a left foot injury.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol would not even entertain a scenario where Bryant, the Lakers co-captain, would miss Tuesday's game.
"I think he'll play no matter what," Gasol said. "So, I'm not even thinking about anything else."
Lakers starting center Andrew Bynum expressed confidence in his team no matter what Bryant's health status may be.
"Our defense will be better and our offense will be better and we will win Game 5," Bynum declared.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.