Kobe Bryant has had to endure the pain of an avulsion fracture to the index finger on his shooting hand, crippling back spasms, and a sprained ankle so painful that Bryant says he can't push off with it.
So why in the world is he even contemplating attempting to play in this weekend's All-Star game?
I understand the warrior concept, and I realize Bryant embodies this mentality in many ways, but why risk further injury in a meaningless game?
Los Angeles Laker trainer Gary Vitti offered the opinion that Bryant should continue to rest through the All-Star break—and that sentiment is probably echoed by many who are paying attention to the situation.
Bryant, though, maintains if he is able, he will play. And I think if he does, it should be no more than a token gesture—give the fans a glimpse, wave to the crowd, then retire to the bench in preparation for the task at hand.
That task is to return to health in order to help your teammates defend your 2009 championship and maintain the four-game lead you have over the Denver Nuggets for home-court advantage in the Western Conference.
All else is trivial, especially a glorified scrimmage which serves no purpose other than to quench the thirst of a crazed fanbase that remains enamoured with a dying product.
I am aware of Bryant's own brash ego and his desire to play in Jerry Jones' latest toy—which, if I understand correctly, will serve as the stage for the largest crowd to ever view a basketball game.
Who wouldn't want to be part of that type of history? I don't begrudge Bryant the opportunity to miss out on that—but after the tip, he should assume a seat next to Pau Gasol and discuss the course of the rest of the season.
Speaking of Gasol, he and his teammates have given indications that they can survive a limited time without the services of Bryant, but little can be gleaned from a two- game absence—and they have yet to face adversity in his stead.
What happens when the crisp rhythm and precision the Lakers have shown in the past two games are challenged and disrupted? That will be the true test of how capable Bryant's teammates are of dealing with pressure.
And regardless if they pass the test or not, Bryant's presence is what makes that type of situation an easier one to deal with—and his teammates should be paramount in his thoughts.
Ankle injuries can be tricky things, and with constant treatment and a nice wrap, limited mobility is a possibility—but once the ankle has been exerted, the pain will return.
The best medicine for that type of injury is rest, and because of the All-Star break, Bryant is blessed with an extended period of time to allow his ankle a chance to heal.
Depending on the severity of the sprain, it is no given that Bryant will be fully recovered by the time the slate of regular season games resume, but it is a certainty he will be further along if he skips the All-Star game.
The schedule the Lakers will have to endure after the break is brutal, but it will be worse if by some strange instance Bryant reaggravates his injury and is forced to miss more time.