If you look at the back of your hand, you’ll notice muscle. Some tendons, ligaments. Probably a vein or two.
Now, look at the above photo again.
From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
With those torn ligaments in his right wrist – an injury that should’ve required surgery and three months of rehabilitation – Bryant is forever one collision from serious seasonal consequences. When he fails to keep the wrist moving during a game, it will swell significantly.
Kobe tore the lunotriquetral ligament in the wrist of his shooting hand. The lunotriquetral ligament is a series of bands of connective tissue that link the lunate and triquetral bones. Since Kobe’s lunate and triquetral bones did not displace during his fall in the Lakers’ preseason game against the Clippers, Byrant eschewed surgery, leaving him with what I jokingly refer to as “fat-hand.”
Kobe’s bad wrist and “fat-hand” restrict his movement, weaken his grip on the ball, and drastically affect his shot. The injury is no more evident then when Kobe is on the free-throw line. Kobe’s made over 7,000 freebies, and taken almost 8,500. His stroke has been refined over 16 seasons. Nowadays, every Kobe free throw is accompanied by an overt, nervous body English. He leans, bends. His arms flail as he tries to will the ball into the basket.
You: Well, Neil, if Kobe’s wrist affects him that much when he’s just standing still taking free throws, doesn’t it affect everything else he does, from dribbling to the difficult jump shots he takes, even more so?
Yet he persists. Kobe Bryant’s ability to play through pain and significant injury is admirable, dare I say inspiring.
From Bill Simmons of Grantland:
Kobe is a tough dude. Gotta hand it to him – he plays with legit injuries about as well as NBA player I can remember.
We’re at the point in Bryant’s career where any non-catastrophic injury is written off as a relative non-factor – never to keep him from missing playing time – and all of his catastrophic injuries are written off as non-catastrophic.
He’s an absolute warrior. Our memories of Kobe scoring, and winning titles, on a myriad of injuries will balloon like a tall tale. “Remember the time Kobe scored 44 with two left arms? Yeah, his right arm got shot off by a bazooka, so he bought a left arm on the German black market, had it sewn on, and hung 44 on Ruben Patterson.”
Of course, Bryant’s willingness to battle while wounded is, in part, a pointed strategy in his ongoing Résumé War with Michael Jordan. Kobe’s legacy will undoubtedly benefit from every injury he has played with, and will play with, over the course of his career, but the best way for Bryant to pass Jordan on the All-Time list will be to pass him in championship rings.
We’re certain the Lakers can’t win a title without Bryant, but can they hang a banner with Bryant so clearly not even close to 100%. Last season’s knee and ankle injuries never hurt Kobe more than when he walked off the floor in Dallas, a victim of the Mavericks’ Playoff sweep. This year, I can promise you, Bryant’s wrist will not be getting better.
According to the Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding, Bryant is receiving a numbing injection before every game with the hopes of performing normally. Head Coach Mike Brown admits the injury “could be hurting Bryant more than he is letting on.” Take it from Kobe’s personal trainer (also, famously, Michael Jordan’s personal trainer), Tim Grover:
“I’ve never seen anyone do what Kobe’s doing right now.”
Maybe that’s not a good thing? We’ll never know because Kobe Bryant is playing tonight. And every other night the Lakers have a game.
Did you hear about the time Kobe blocked a shot with his anger?