Kobe: “You Just Try To Play Through It.”

Kurt —  December 11, 2009

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Here’s the bad news: Kobe suffered an Avulsion Fracture on the first knuckle of his index finger on his right (shooting) hand (it happened when Corey Brewer went for a steal of a pass to Kobe from Fisher, deflected the ball and it hit Kobe’s hand at an odd angle). This means a small bit of bone is pulled off by the tendon as it seperates from the bone. This is the same injury he had on his pinky finger before, but Kobe himself admitted this is going to take more getting used to because of the location where the ball releases on his shot.

But, he’s Kobe — he’s going to play through it. He’ll be playing in Utah tomorrow.

This is not a situation where there is some magic trick to heal it. It is not serious enough for surgery, so he’s going to keep playing and learn to adjust. Kobe got a foam splint on it at half, came out in the third quarter and early on took a three from the top of the key that he missed, but when he ran back down the court he looked over at the bench and gave the thumbs up sign. He hit a three a couple trips later down the court.

Still, he’s taking a sore finger out on the road for five games.

“I’m concerned. But you just try to play through it and figure things out. Tomorrow will probably be the worst of it, then you just go from there.”

“Yeah, you just get used to it. That’s all. It’s just a different technique to shoot the ball.”

We’ll see how this impacts his play. The good news is, compared to last time this happened, Kobe is surrounded by better weapons (like Gasol and Bynum). Also, he has a more developed post game where he uses his left hand a lot.

In the second quarter, Kobe tried to go back in and play without a splint, but became almost exclusively left handed. He made some plays, including a perfect lob to Shannon Brown for his highlight dunk of the night.

“The debate — who has a better left hand between me and Pau — is over. There’s no contest. No contest.”

Kurt

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42 responses to Kobe: “You Just Try To Play Through It.”

  1. Kobe’s ability to play through injury is really quite impressive, though this make tomorrows game (and the coming road trip) that much more difficult and that much more of a test of just where the team stands. Here’s hoping for a quick recovery for Kobe and for the winning streak to continue.

  2. hey Kurt glad we got you at games now we get such a better report from you than the rest of the announcers and reporters coverage. thanks!

  3. it wouldn’t surprise me if kobe becomes practically ambidextrous by playoff time.

  4. I know Kobe is a robot but I wish he would just rest once in a while. Sometime small injury can easily turn big considering his age.

  5. We joke a lot here about Kobe playing through anything – hold ups in his neighborhood, injuries etc.

    I’m not a huge fan of John Hollinger, but I’ll quote him here: “It’s almost Hubris to take his [Kobe's] longevity for granted”

    I 100% agree. This just reminds me to enjoy Kobe game-in and game-out. This was a scare, but a shout out to him and hope his finger heals soon!

    Go Lakers!

  6. and zephid gives out a long sigh of relief!

  7. Here’s what’s most incredible to me – most players can barely hope to find one good way to shoot. Lebron, Tony Parker – these guys spend years finding a technique that makes them somewhat reliable shooters. Kobe? He creates new shooting techniques based on how many fingers he has left. This is absolutely ridiculous. Your fingers (and now the index finger) on your shooting hand? I don’t know if there’s a precedent in basketball for a guy doing this (not in 1 game, off adrenaline), but morphing his game to adapt to physical obstacles like this.

    For us fans, it’s a mix of emotions. We marvel at his unparalleled determination, his supreme skill to adapt his game around injury. But at the same time, we’re scared that this could be the injury that will finally hurt his game, hurt our chances as a team, or hurt Kobe’s longevity. But man, what a warrior.

  8. We go through this with kobe at least twice a season- in fact we’ve already done it once this season with his ankle. He’ll be inefficient on offense for a week, maybe 2 as he heals and becomes adjusted to the injury. He’ll be more of a distributor and decoy until suddenly he’ll be fine one night and go off for 16-24 and 43 points and we’ll all forget he was ever hurt.

    Meanwhile if Lebron had this happen to his off hand he’d miss 5 games.

  9. This statement was in the link that Kurt provided: “Athletes in particular tend to be at risk of re-damaging avulsion fractures by getting back into training too soon”. You are right, he will just adjust and probably have this injury for a while this season, but it will not really matter to him or the team because he will adjust to it and will probably be in the MVP voting again with 7 fingers or so available to use.

  10. dave in hillsboro December 12, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Three straight back to backs (on the road, no less) ought to quiet the people complaining about the Lakers’ easy schedule. This five game road trip has the Lakers playing three of the games on the second night of a back to back, against Utah, Milwaukee and Detroit.

  11. I don’t think there is a debate when it comes to toughness on this league. You can pretend toughness all you want, but you can’t beat Kobe here. No way.

  12. Thanks for the update Kurt – although knowing Kobe, you could have easily just made up those quotes and I wouldn’t know the difference. No way that guy was missing time for a mere broken finger. :P

    7

    That’s exactly what I was thinking when he made that 3 after coming back in. And the retarded thing is, he makes those adjustments almost immediately, literally right out of the locker room. It’s astounding.

  13. chibi – I was thinking exactly the same thing. Kobe has been focusing more on his left hand. This may just push him over the top.

    Off topic – but is anyone else a little concerned about Shannon? I haven’t researched it, but his +/- seems to frequently be in the -. Is this due to playing with the Taco Unit or is this a larger issue with him.

    I see him making one or two or even three great plays a game, but overall I am not sure he is developing like we had hoped.

  14. as Tim Gunn likes to say: “I’m concerned”. Does Kobe have any finger left? I have a little bruise on my finger and my typing accuracy is shot to hell :)

    I’m sure Kobe will make it work (another Gunnism).

    Re Shannon: yes it seems that as Sasha is having a mini surge, ShanWOW is fading a bit. He still has his one or two highlight plays, but seems absent otherwise.

  15. 13.

    this was mentioned in a previous post, but shannon has been playing a lot of his minutes at sg, playing next to JF – negating his strengths (size, strength and athleticism)

  16. So now I understand why Paul Pierce did what he did on Game 1 of 2008 Finals… he was trying to outshine Kobe’s ability to heal and play through an injury.

    Difference is, his was fake! LOOOOOL.

  17. The injury to the shooting finger terrifies me. Kobe has such a track record of playing through injuries (to his shooting hand in particular), but this one could be the worst considering it is the index finger. I don’t know what to expect over the next couple weeks. I just hope he doesn’t have to do much to keep the Lakers winning games on this road trip.

  18. He’ll adjust. It will probably mean more of an issue on defense, because of poking at the ball, than on offense.

  19. Hey Kurt

    Are you aware of the Lakers FO or coaching staff taking advantage of any advanced moneyball statistics a la Darrel Morey?

  20. The Lakers use advanced stats less than virtually every team in the league. It’s not part of Phil Jackson’s philosophy, and his philosophy is the dominant one in the front office.

    In the “how useful are these stats?” debate, I don’t think it means much. Other successful franchises like San Antonio use them a lot. They are just another tool, but you can be successful with or without that tool.

  21. I am currently 3 months post surgery for a avulsion fracture to the pinky on my right (dominant) hand. I think Kobe had this same injury on his pinky a couple of years ago and played through it.

    The basic problem is that the ligament needs to re-attach. Surgery puts the bone back and reattaches the ligament, but it is nasty, painful and takes a while to recover. I wish I hadn’t had the surgery.

    We don’t know how serious Kobe’s fracture is, but the big goal, is to have him as effective as possible by playoff time, 4 months from now.

    In my case, I had two pins inserted for 7 weeks, and have been doing rehab since the pins were taken out. I still have the “mallet finger” problem (the shape of Kobe’s finger droop last night), and find out next week, (13 weeks post-surgery) whether I can get rid of my splint.

    Although I don’t play basketball anymore, I haven’t played any right handed tennis since the injury and don’t know how soon I will be able to grip a racquet.

    Of course, I can be more concerned about appearance than a professional athlete in the middle of the season, but the mallet finger droop is capable of affecting Kobe’s shot.

  22. Figured as much.. must clash w/Phil’s Zen philosophy..

    Guess when you have ‘it’ you just don’t need them.. Still.. you have to wonder when you look at the way Houston is playing.. they have a very respectable record despite the league’s #1 SOS and gaping holes in roster.

    Thks Kurt.

  23. On one of NBA.com videos, Steve Smith compares Kobe playing with, not one, but two injured fingers to Jordan playing with a flu.

    Comfy pedestal is comfy.

  24. The Lakers use advanced stats less than virtually every team in the league. It’s not part of Phil Jackson’s philosophy, and his philosophy is the dominant one in the front office.

    ___

    This was noted in BaskPro, and as a fan, I think it is something to be aware of as the team moves forward. My take on advanced stats in terms of actual team building is that they are not all that useful in developing/acquiring stars, but in the 4-8 spots on the roster, they can matter quite a lot if used correctly. The Nuggets, as most here are aware, employ Dean Oliver, and there has been speculation that Oliver influenced Warkentien’s decision to get Ty Lawson. Lawson’s college metrics indicated he was undervalued on draft boards and would be a find, and he is playing extremely well, at least on O, so far.

    As to Kobe’s finger, I think given that it is his index finger on his shooting hand, it is definitely something to be concerned about.

  25. the other Stephen December 12, 2009 at 11:05 am

    in a related piece of news, devin harris took himself out of the game because he sprained his pinkie and was having trouble dribbling. i’m not saying that i or any other normal person wouldn’t do the same thing, but it kinda highlights what the heck kobe is doing.

  26. This is very off-topic and I hope I don’t upset anybody..

    I’m currently writing an essay on the differences between American (NBA) and international (FIBA, Euroleague) basketball, and I find myself struggling with finding relevant sources. So it occured to me that a lot of people here probably have relevant and thoughtful input on the subject. I thought I’d at least put the question out there as to what some of you see as the biggest difference between the two; mainly regarding isolation plays, athleticism etc.

    Thankful for any help I can get!

  27. 13,15

    I’ve also noticed that Shannon has tried to create his own shots a bit more as of late, though I think this is likely related to spending more time at SG.

  28. I wouldn’t be worried too much about Kobe’s finger… not with the way Derek Fisher has been picking up the slack. The emperor has no clothes…

  29. Utah is favored by 2 points tonight. Biggest game of the season so far. Except maybe the previous Denver and Phoenix games. But we know how those turned out so now its this one

  30. 21. Was your fracture on the knuckle? I believe Kobe’s is the “proximal interphalangeal joints” (PIP), or the first joint.

  31. 26 – I’m not very familiar with Euro ball and so I’m not qualified to answer. But Xavier, a contributor on this site, coaches in Spain and would have top-notch knowledge on the exact differences in the game.

    There’s basic stuff – the NBA game has adapted some of the Euro/college game characteristics (like the zone), but I don’t know nearly enough about the Euro game to really answer that. Hopefully Xavier’s around.

  32. Bill Simmons’s podcast with Dan Le Batard about the Miami Hurricanes has a pretty long segment on Kobe, and they are awfully nice to Kobe. Surprisingly.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espnradio/player?id=4734534

  33. 26.. You have all of the rule differences too , yes? I think the trapezoid lane reverts to the NBA standard next year.

    A subtle difference, is the Euroleague is officiated by 2 officials, not 3 – although the game is easier to officiate. No interference rules or defensive 3 seconds etc…

  34. Video of the carnage from last night. I was embarrassed for Fisher and his family last night. Brewer’s been a disappointment so far, but man, what a poster…

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Graphic-video-Wolf-attacks-Derek-Fisher;_ylt=Al5OZkhgmVf8YU8x2zrQyVa8vLYF?urn=nba,208270

  35. it’s getting clsoe to game time, and I’ve got my “this one’s for Warren” ready to paste in….
    game preview? ;)

  36. chris h, we are going to need that tonight, with Kobe’s fracture and the Jazz wanting revenge. Maybe Kurt is finishing hanging his lights with an umbrella this afternoon?

  37. Yeah Kobe displays amazing perseverance, but what’s the deal with Lakers fans hating on other stars in the NBA? Kobe is a freak of nature, no one currently can do what he does as an overall package. Trash talking other superstars for nursing injuries and not going out to risk worsening their ailments just comes off as mean-spirited and low. Unless one suffered a sports-related injury and played through it, a fan has no right to make fun of or chastise any professional athlete for taking time off to heal.

  38. wtf!? kobe with another injury in his shooting hand? no problem. he is still way better than lebron with healthy shooting hands.

  39. 30

    It was the first joint also.

  40. Is it coincidence that during the very first game this season that I didn’t have a chance to see any little part of, Kobe injured his shooting hand?

    In the interest of keeping Kobe healthy, I’m going to make every effort possible to watch every single Laker game for the duration of the reguar season. I’ve already informed the family not to expect me to show up in church for Christmas this year. Shedule conflict with the Laker game.

  41. Kobe is by my opinion the “best” player in the league right now. He has gravitated to become a leader for his team – entrusting them with confidence on the court. As a player, he has worked to improve his game in the off season and that has paid off for his team. Like one blogger mentioned earlier, he will just use his newly found skill to play a post up game until his finger is healed or at least back to 75%. Kobe’s game is 70% mental – he has been a student of the game – learning from Magic, Mike, Bird etc. – he will never let you know how bad he is hurting nor when that injury has healed – but you always have to be aware of his presence. Kobe’s killer instinct as a player will not let him sit down with a minor injury, the beauty is that he has such a supporting cast around him now – that he can go a game a score only 15-16 pts while others benefit from him beinga decoy.

  42. I’m a lakers fan I watched everytime the lakers play, Bynum is always pushed and shoved by small players. He has good moves offensively but lack of toughness using his body and finding place to get offensive rebounds. If he used his body phisically in playing he is a dangerous player and gain the respect of others.