NBA News: Kobe Bryant Questionable for Season-Opener

Brett David Roberts@33TriggerCorrespondent IOctober 29, 2012

Kobe may be dressed in street clothes for the home opener Tuesday night.
Kobe may be dressed in street clothes for the home opener Tuesday night.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant injured his foot when he was kicked in the third quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers' preseason loss to the Sacramento Kings on October 21st. 

Following the injury, he told the L.A. Times' Mike Bresnahan (reported via Twitter) that Kobe said the injury was severe enough that it would caused him to sit out the following game (played last Wednesday, the 24th) even if it were a regular season contest.

The injury may be more serious than previously thought.

Pau Gasol's concerns certainly do nothing to diminish the gravity of the injury:

"I don't know, I have my doubts.  I hope [we have him in the lineup].  He hasn't been able to practice for six days.  He's been off that foot for six days, and it's no joke.  I don't remember the last time he took that many days off exercising.  He might do stuff in the weight too and might do stuff without putting weight on the foot, but its a little bit concerning."  Pau Gasol told Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

It's more than just "a little bit concerning," Pau.  It's the Lakers title hopes that are on the line, regardless of how early in the season it is.  For a team that worried about not having Dwight Howard ready to go, this isn't any less troubling. 

Howard, too, says Bryant "seems down" that he he can't get out and practice with the team, and added that Bryant is "trying to nurse his foot."

Because Kobe is now 34, injuries like these become a little more scary.  The body heals less quickly as players age, and the fact that it's been nearly a week and Kobe has made little to no progress signals all kinds of flags for his teammates, and for fans. 

If Kobe is unable to go for the majority of the season, can the Lakers still contend with Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard?

Is it too premature to start worrying about the team's chances at a title without the second greatest player to ever lace it up?

It may be and it may not be, but without Bryant the Lakers lack a closer.  They lack the guy that is going to ram it down teams' throats in the fourth quarter.  And they lack their leader.

An MRI over the weekend showed that Kobe has a strain and contusion in the foot.  As to how serious a strain and bruise can be, it's really tough to say.

The Lakers open the season Tuesday night against the Dallas Mavericks at the Staples Center, but then travel to Portland the following night to take on LaMarcus Aldridge and the Trail Blazers.  It raises the question, "even if Kobe is able to play the opener, should he play the next night on no rest and risk aggravating the injury?"

That's the thing.  There is no rest for the weary in the NBA.  Bryant's foot will take time to heal, and if he's going to be thrust back into the lineup, it's not going to get its proper rest.  Bryant could battle a nagging injury all season long if he tries to rush back too soon. 

And the Lakers must keep what matters in mind—June.  Even if the team stumbles out of the gates and loses a handful of games in November, if all systems are go by the time the playoffs roll around, this foot injury will be less than a footnote in the landscape of their season. 

But right now, it's far more than that.  Right now, it is clouding the Lakers' future and it could cause them to get off to a rocky start.  And for all that we hear that the postseason is all that matters, it will be hard to shake the sound of critics if the Lakers struggle without Bryant.