For the past week, there has been nothing but uncertainty regarding the status of Los Angeles Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant for opening night. The new-look Lakers open the season at home tonight against the Dallas Mavericks, and according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, the five-time champion is a game-time decision as he recovers from a strained and bruised right foot.
The thought of the team being without Bryant is borderline unheard-of, as he has been the Lakers' workhorse for almost two decades, but a recent post on his Facebook page suggests that fans should have hope about tonight's game.
Getting stronger. Not sure what it means for tomorrow night just yet but it’s much better than it was a week ago when I could barely walk. I hate not practicing. It drives me crazy! The training staff has been great. Mr. Laker, Gary Vitti, and the great Judy Seto (the first female trainer in the NBA) have been working their magic.
I will know more after shoot around tomorrow am. It's still painful to raise up on my toes but, it’s strong. The decision to be made is whether the injury can heal while playing on it or if it will make it worse. Either way, I'm excited about the start of the season. Hopefully we can win a game or two finally ;-)
The post is not only testament to how hard a worker Bryant is, but also just how much he doesn't want to disappoint the fans on Opening Night.
For the past decade, he has been the one packing the Staples Center with fans and is easily the most popular player on the team. Fans come to see him, and though he has very talented teammates this year in Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, the game just won't be the same if the Black Mamba doesn't play. This post certainly implies that there is a strong chance that he will play.
You see, ever since Bryant got injured, he has been unable to practice. Yet he's planning on participating in this morning's shoot-around? It's not exactly a full-on practice, but it's still a big step for him.
More importantly, it's great that Bryant re-establishes his status as a team player in his Facebook post. Instead of griping about how bummed out he is about being injured, he thanks the training staff and professes his excitement for the season. A diva player would probably rant and ramble about the situation, or maybe not play at all.
Keep in mind, current Laker Dwight Howard underwent back surgery last season while with the Orlando Magic, but essentially disappeared from the team once he opted to have the operation because he just didn't want to be there anymore. There was tension between him and coach Stan Van Gundy as well as the front office, and instead of being a team player, he essentially forced himself out of Orlando.
Bryant, on the other hand, is committed to being a cheerleader even if he can't play. The man has done nothing but win for most of his career, and if he can't help his team on the court, he'll be determined to help from the sidelines. Be it in real life or on his Facebook, however, one thing is certain: Lakers fans should get themselves fired up whether the Black Mamba suits up later or not, because no matter how you look at it, Los Angeles is in for a great season that starts tonight.