Will Kobe Bryant’s Declining Health Allow Him to Finish Contract with Lakers?

It's only a matter of time before the Chicken Littles of the NBA are out in full force, crowing about a celestial collapse involving the Los Angeles Lakers.

Assuming such a chorale hasn't already commenced.

Not on account of an 0-8 stumble through the preseason, though going winless is never a good thing, even when the games themselves are little more than glorified scrimmages.

The torrent of turnovers and miscues on both ends of the floor were troubling, if not completely predictable amidst the anomie accompanying a dramatic summer shake-up of scheme, coaching staff and roster.

What was most disconcerting about the Lakers' month of October wasn't what they did, but rather what they didn't do toward the end, and why.

I'm referring, of course, to playing Kobe Bryant.

The Lakers' seminal superstar missed the last two games of the exhibition season on account of a strain in his right foot stemming from a happenstance collision with Sacramento Kings rookie Thomas Robinson on October 21. 

How severe is the resulting pain and discomfort?

Kobe claims he wouldn't have played in Wednesday's game regardless of the implications, and he didn't even make the trip down to San Diego for the preseason finale on Thursday.

That may not seem like anything out of the ordinary for the average player, who's bound to be sidelined by something or other at some point during the course of a season.

But Kobe isn't the average player, to say the least. He's one of the toughest players (if not the toughest) in the NBA today—a claim to which a plurality of general managers will readily attest. 

He's not an iron man by any strict, consecutive-games-played definition, but the guy fights through pain like few others ever have.

Sprained ankles? Sore knees? How about a shooting hand with sprained ligaments, arthritic joints and broken ...

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