Los Angeles Lakers trainer Gary Vitti is one of the best in the business. I would have to believe that Kobe Bryant is in good hands with his recent foot issues (via ESPN). The 34-year-old shooting guard suffered a strain in that right foot when he got tangled up with Thomas Robinson in a preseason game against the Sacramento Kings.
For now, Kobe is listing the injury as "day to day" while declaring that the injury can "be a good thing" for the chemistry of his new teammates:
I hesitate to worry about this situation when Dwight Howard has returned wonderfully from invasive back surgery. It would seem that L.A.'s trainers should be given the benefit of the doubt against foes like luck and age. They're electing to be cautious today, with Mike Brown stating that Kobe could miss the season opener (via ESPN).
Still, concerns abound because Bryant is relatively old for a shooting guard. Michael Jordan played his last Bulls season at Kobe's age. Clyde Drexler retired a year after turning 34. Perhaps Lakers fans could look to Reggie Miller for optimism, as Reggie played until age 39. Of course, Miller's game demanded far less from his body than Bryant's.
Kobe continues to play a punishing brand of basketball. He absorbs contact often, averaging 7.8 free-throw attempts per game last season. He also has a heel strike when he runs, possibly meaning that his full body weight gets pushed toward his foot.
It should also be noted that Kobe has been injured and persevered. Hell, he's even been injured in a preseason game and slogged out a full season with few ill effects.
I am not a doctor, and Bryant is keeping mum on the details, but Lakers fans should trend toward cautious optimism. They should do it, however, while savoring every Kobe play, since we're almost assuredly near the end of his superstardom.
Kobe can still be good for a team, and I expect him to be for a least a few more years. But the days of the 180 layups and fast-break dunks are probably coming to a close. Watch it and love it while you still can, because the Kobe we know might soon leave the scene.