NBA Playoffs 2011: Did Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant Fake His Ankle Injury?

How impressive was Kobe Bryant’s Game 5 performance against the Hornets?

Prior to the game, there was plenty of chatter regarding Kobe’s ankle. No one knew how effective he would play and many wondered if he should play at all.

The incident happened in the closing minutes of Game 4. Bryant appeared to severely injure his left ankle while guarding Willie Green. He was seen leaving the arena on crutches and was later diagnosed with a sprained ankle.

When Kobe went down, many wondered if the Lakers’ three-peat chances went down with him. Bryant had injured the same ankle just over a month ago in what he called the worst sprain of his career.

Despite his history of ankle injuries, Kobe refused to undergo any foot examinations. Team doctors urged him to get X-Rays or an MRI, but Bryant would have none of that. He was going to play in Game 5 and no one could persuade him otherwise.

Kobe started slow in Game 5, moving gingerly on his sore ankle. He didn’t take a single shot in the first quarter and appeared to be more of a decoy than a five-time champion.

But in the second quarter, Kobe came alive.

On one possession, he head faked Trevor Ariza, drove the ball to the hoop and threw down an amazing one-handed dunk over Emeka Okafor’s outstretched hand.

A few possessions later, Kobe cut through the lane and finished with an emphatic slam—this time using his left hand.

Bryant scored bucket after bucket and finished with 19 points in a 106-90 Lakers victory. The ankle looked great and so did the Lakers.

In an interview with Cheryl Miller, Kobe said he was effective because his injured ankle loosened up as the game progressed.

On the TNT telecast, Charles Barkley shared a different opinion.

Barkley: "He wasn't hurt. He might have tweaked his ankle a little bit, but listen—he didn't go to the doc...

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