Ankle forces Lakers star to miss 13 games so far
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Although Kobe Bryant doesn't have a timetable for playing again for the Los Angeles Lakers, he intends to appear in the NBA All-Star game if his severely sprained right ankle is healed.
"The important thing is to be healthy," Bryant said Wednesday evening before the Lakers played the New Jersey Nets. "I am not going to feel obligated to play because it's the All-Star game.
"The most important thing is helping us win ball games. If my ankle is ready to go, I'll play."
The game is scheduled for Feb. 20 in Denver.
Bryant, the NBA's second-leading scorer with a 27.5 average, missed his 13th straight game Wednesday night. The eight-year veteran was injured against Cleveland on Jan. 13.
When he was placed on the injured list Jan. 15, it was expected Bryant would be sidelined for three to six weeks.
The perennial All-Star guard worked out hard with the Lakers on Tuesday, but said he was sore Wednesday.
"There has been consistent soreness in the past two or three days," Bryant said. "I want to shut down doing things on my feet, actively moving around, and hope not to irritate anything."
Bryant said he would like to play on the Lakers' current five-game road trip, which still includes games at Detroit on Thursday night and Cleveland on Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles will play Utah at home on Tuesday night before starting the All-Star break.
"Now we need help from Mother Nature," Bryant said. "We have done everything we could. Now it has to heal up for us.
Watching the Lakers struggle in recent weeks hasn't been easy for Bryant. The team has developed a tendency to fall behind early.
"I don't know what it is about us, whether we feel we have to get down 20, 30 points, and we have them exactly where we want them," Bryant said. "When the ball goes up, we have to be ready to play and jump on them now."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press