Bryant sustained a strained and bruised foot in Sunday's preseason game against the Sacramento Kings.
Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times tweeted on Tuesday:
Kobe said his bruised/strained foot was sore enough that he wouldn't play Wednesday vs. Clippers, even if it was a regular-season game.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) October 23, 2012
Bryant is certainly not getting any younger. He's 34 years old and entering his 17th season in the league. It's part of the reason why he told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com in early October that he was hesitant to play beyond the remaining two years left on his contract.
Bryant said in the CBSSports.com interview:
It's just that three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health. That's a lot of years. For a guard? That's a lot of years.
John Hollinger of ESPN noted that Bryant was in the top five in the NBA in PER in the first half of last season, but fell off as the season wore on. Bryant shot 38.7 percent in March en route to finishing 17th in PER. He also shot 43 percent from the field, his worst mark since his second season in the league.
Obviously, Kobe is still a top player in the NBA, but there is no question he is losing a bit of his athleticism and that naturally makes things tougher on him. His smarts and knowledge of the game make up for some of it, but he still can't dominate the way he used to.
There is still no guarantee that Dwight Howard signs an extension with the Lakers before he hits free agency next year. In that sense, this could conceivably be the Lakers' last season to win a title before Bryant retires.
That's why the signing of Steve Nash was critical for L.A. The trio of Nash, Bryant and Howard gives the Lakers a great shot of winning another championship before it's too late.
One thing's for sure: Bryant's latest injury only highlights the sense of urgency in Lakers camp these days.
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