Kobe Bryant’s Rough Outing Proves Mamba Shouldn’t Have Rushed Back for Lakers

We've seen more different sides of Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant this season than we ever had in his first 16 years.

He's been a scorer (27.5 points per game), a distributor (three different stretches of four-plus games with eight-plus assists) and a fiery leader challenging his heir apparent.

But a much different side of Bryant was shown on Friday night, one that the basketball world frankly never wants to see again. Just 48 hours after suffering a grisly ankle sprain in the closing seconds of Wednesday night's loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Black Mamba was doing his best Willis Reed impression.

It wasn't exactly Game 7 of the NBA Finals, but a trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse against an Indiana Pacers team that held a 26-7 home record entering the game held serious playoff implications. The Lakers had recently surpassed the Utah Jazz for the Western Conference's eighth seed, but they held that spot by the narrowest of margins (a half-game) entering the game.

After Bryant tweeted a photo of the resulting damage on Thursday, it wasn't a question of whether he'd miss the Pacers game, but how many more he'd miss after it:

17yrs. Countless fades. This has happened TWICE. Jalen and Now Ankle still very swollen. Treatment all day #focus twitter.com/kobebryant/sta…

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 14, 2013 Yet there was Bryant on the floor for the opening tip. And there he stood at the first quarter's buzzer, playing all 12 minutes of the period.

But this wasn't quite the Mamba we were used to seeing. He attempted four jump shots and missed them all. Some were set up by minimal movement; others were set up by no movement at all.

Defensively, he was a liability. He lucked into a matchup with the offensively limited Lance Stephenson but still couldn't hide his obviously painful movements.

After that opening period, though, Bryant would not ...

About the Author