Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant

Scott expects Kobe back next season

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
1:47
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Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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videoEL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Shoulder surgery performed Wednesday morning will likely end Kobe Bryant's season, but Lakers coach Byron Scott emphasized that he expects the 36-year-old to return next season.

“In my mind right now, he’s coming back next year, unless he tells me something different,” Scott said.

The injury, which Bryant suffered last week in a road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, will almost certainly mark Bryant’s third consecutive season-ending injury. Bryant, now in his 19th season, has seen his past two seasons cut short by Achilles and knee injuries.

Scott said he communicated with Bryant on Tuesday night after the Lakers’ loss to the Washington Wizards, which marked the team's ninth straight defeat -- its longest losing streak since it lost 10 straight in April 1994.

“He didn’t seem to be struggling at all. He was calling me to console me, which is Kobe,” Scott said with a laugh. “He’s texting me, talking about, ‘Are you OK?’ He’s the one going into surgery ... not me. But that’s just him, and that’s basically our relationship.”

Of Bryant’s impending rehabilitation, Scott said, “It’s pretty painful from what I’ve heard, and the rehab is long.”

Bryant will make a league-high $25 million in 2015-16, the final year of a two-year contract extension he signed in November 2013. Scott is already envisioning how he will use the star shooting guard.

“For Kobe, play him at mid- to low-20s minute-wise,” Scott said, a stark difference from the team-high 35.4 minutes per game that Bryant played during the Lakers’ first 27 games this season.

But Scott said future plans involving Bryant greatly depend on this summer.

“I got to wait until August until we have a good idea of what we've brought in and who we bring back,” he said, alluding to free agency and the draft. “Then we go from there.”

Scott said he expects Bryant to be active in recruiting free agents.

“But I think the biggest thing with Kobe, as long as [the media are] saying that he’s done, he’s going to come back,” Scott said. “I think he proved his point this year that he still has a lot left in the tank. He’s still one of the best players in the league.”

Bryant, who was voted in by fans as a Western Conference All-Star starter last week, played 35 games with the Lakers this season, averaging 22.3 points per game on a career-low 37.3 percent shooting.

With Kobe out, make way for 'Swaggy P'

January, 26, 2015
Jan 26
3:23
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Holmes By Baxter Holmes
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Bryant & YoungAP Photo/Jae C. HongKobe Bryant may be done for the season, but Nick Young is more than ready to take the reins.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- What will the Lakers do without Kobe Bryant?

Don't worry.

They still have Nick Young.

"Just give me the ball and get out of the way," the outspoken reserve guard said with a laugh after practice Monday, not long after the team announced that Bryant will have surgery Wednesday morning to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

A timetable for Bryant's recovery won't be known until after the procedure, but Lakers coach Byron Scott said that "we know Kobe is probably not going to play" again this season.

While Scott said he has “no idea” who will step up to help fill the void left by Bryant, and didn’t mention who would start in place of Bryant, no doubt more is expected of Young, who averages 14.1 points per game, second among Lakers players to Bryant’s 22.3.

"It’s a big responsibility," Young said. "I’ve got to go out there and play to the best of my abilities every night."

Young spoke after apparently suffering a sprained ankle during practice when guard Jordan Clarkson stepped on his foot. Young said his ankle was "throbbing, but I’ll be all right." He said he wasn't sure if he'd play Tuesday against the Washington Wizards.

However, Young's mention of "responsibility" came at an interesting time. The Lakers guard was benched in the second half of Sunday's loss to the Houston Rockets for what Scott described as a lack of effort.

"The message I was sending [Sunday] night was, 'You basically didn’t look like you wanted to play,'" Scott said. "'You weren't defending. You were just standing around.' He was throwing the ball all over the place. So I chose not to play him, because if you look disinterested, with body language and things like that, to me you don’t want to play."

Young, who didn't speak to reporters after Sunday's game, discounted the notion that he didn't want to be out there.

"There ain’t a day go by that I don’t want to be out there on the court," Young said. "I love being here, love playing basketball. I get a joy out of playing and seeing the fans, hearing them chant ‘Swaggy P.’ That’s what drives me. [Scott] sees what he sees. I’m not in no situation to go back and forth with the coach because I would never play. That’s his judgment."

On being benched, Young said, "It was very frustrating. It just brought back some old memories, like being a rookie. It happens. I guess [Scott] wants the best for me. I came in [Monday] with the mindset of not having no negative energy. ... I think I’ll be all right."

Young also admitted that the Lakers' losing ways have affected him. The team has lost a season-high eight straight games, their longest losing streak since losing eight in a row in March 2005.

"We’ve only won 12 games this year," Young said. "Losing can catch up to you. I’m still a human being. I’m still going out there trying to fight. At the same time, you get tired of getting beat up."

Young said he and Scott talked about his demeanor, and Young stressed that he has to do a better job when being double-teamed by defenders, which he said he expects even more now that Bryant is out.

"It’s tough, but we’ve got to go out there and still fight," Young said. "We’ve still got to give fans a show. It’s a chance for other people to step up now. There’s a lot of players with contracts. Even though it’s tough for Kobe, it’s a blessing in disguise for other people out there to get a chance. They’ve just got to take full advantage of it."

Lakers lament the loss of Kobe Bryant

January, 26, 2015
Jan 26
2:49
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Holmes By Baxter Holmes
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Lakers coach Byron Scott said he spoke to Kobe Bryant on Monday morning, before Bryant had his injured right shoulder examined.

Scott told Bryant that he would pray for him.

“He sounded good,” Scott said. “I probably sounded worse than he did.”

Not long after, it was announced that the 36-year-old Bryant would have surgery Wednesday morning to repair a torn rotator cuff that he suffered last week in a loss to New Orleans. A timetable for the 19-year veteran’s recovery won't be known until after the procedure, though ESPN reported Friday that Bryant is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Either way, Scott isn’t holding his breath.

“Basically what we’ve been doing the last couple games is what we’re probably going to be doing for the rest of the year, now that we know Kobe is probably not going to play,” Scott said.

But Scott firmly believes that Bryant, who has one year left on his contract with the Lakers, will be back.

“I don’t see Kobe as the type of guy that wants to leave his legacy on these terms,” Scott said. “I think he wants to go out on his own terms.”

Lakers forward Carlos Boozer agreed.

“If anybody can come back from it, it’s Kobe,” Boozer said. “He attacks his rehab. He’s a monster with a work ethic. That’s why we all know he’s the player he is. I don’t expect anything different from Kobe.”

Lakers guard Nick Young recalled the game at New Orleans when Bryant apparently suffered his injury on a third-quarter driving baseline two-handed dunk.

Bryant then played almost entirely left-handed for the rest of the night.

“I knew something was wrong with him,” Young said. “He was doing everything with his left hand, shooting shots, fadeaways.

“At the same time, I thought it was Kobe being Kobe. I didn’t think he was going to have a tear or something. We’ll see what happens.”

Knowing that Bryant almost certainly won’t be back this season, Scott reflected on what Bryant achieved during the 2014-15 campaign after coming back from Achilles and knee injuries that ended his previous two seasons, respectively.

“I think he’s done everything that you can possibly do in this league,” Scott said. “I think at times we don’t appreciate all the stuff that he’s been able to accomplish, how tough he is and all the injuries that he’s played with, to be able to come back the way he’s come back.”

Boozer recalled training camp and how Bryant ran “suicide” running drills with the team every day and helped veterans and rookies alike.

“He had a great year," Boozer said. "Was coming out real aggressive to start. Then he started trusting us more and getting us involved. That’s the thing about Kobe: He can play different styles. He can score 81, or he can have 17 assists. That’s the great thing about his game. He can adjust. He’s that good, especially at this level.

“I think he had a great season. We didn’t get many wins this season. I don’t know if it’s over, but with the surgery, it’s probably over for this year. ... I feel bad for him.”

Video: Kobe getting his shoulder examined

January, 24, 2015
Jan 24
9:21
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Holmes By Baxter Holmes
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According to sources, the Los Angeles Lakers expect guard Kobe Bryant to miss the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff.

Bryant met with team doctor Steven Lombardo in Los Angeles on Friday. The Players' Tribune has the video from the visit, where Bryant was told, "It's torn, and it's pulled off the bone."




Lakers didn't treat aging superstar properly

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23
10:45
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Holmes By Baxter Holmes
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SAN ANTONIO -- Kobe Bryant might have said it at a practice or a game, and he might have said it a month ago, or maybe longer. Byron Scott doesn't quite remember.

What the Lakers coach does remember is his star guard saying that his shoulder was bothering him.

“You all right?” Scott said he asked Bryant.

“I’m all right,” Bryant replied.

The two never talked about the issue again, Scott said.

Then Wednesday, in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Bryant tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, an injury that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season, though a final decision on that will be made early next week, likely Monday.

But Friday, before the Lakers’ 99-85 loss to the San Antonio Spurs here, Scott recounted two rather serious missteps regarding Bryant’s health that Scott said could very well be tied to Bryant’s latest ailment.

The first issue is well known: Scott simply played the 36-year old Bryant way too many minutes earlier this season -- a team-high 35.4 per night during the team’s first 27 games -- even though he said Bryant asked to play fewer minutes from the start.

[+] EnlargeKobe Bryant
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsInstead of employing a cautious Spurs-like approach, coach Byron Scott played Kobe Bryant too much early on.
“I don’t know if the wear and tear of playing so many minutes early is a result of what’s happening to him right now,” Scott said. “To be honest with you, I thought about that, it made me almost sick.”

Scott said he apologized to Bryant via text.

“His response was like, 'No, that ain’t it,'” Scott said. “He tried to make me feel better.”

Then Scott discussed Bryant’s nagging shoulder issue, which hadn’t been made public, and they brought it up again this week after Bryant appeared to tear his rotator cuff on what seemed to be a no-frills baseline dunk against the Pelicans.

“You remember when I said it?” Bryant said, according to Scott.

“Yeah, I remember,” Scott said.

“I think it was kind of hurting then and I just re-aggravated it on a much higher level,” Bryant replied.

Bryant has played through numerous injuries and said so again Wednesday.

“I’ve played on a torn labrum before,” he said. “I’m not too concerned about it.”

Bryant also basically played with just his left hand after suffering the injury Wednesday but said that wasn’t unusual. He said that he had played entire games left-handed before too, in 2003, 2004 and 2006 because of a separated shoulder.

But that was years ago. He’s aged plenty in NBA years, put on many more NBA miles and suffered two recent major injuries (Achilles and knee). So much is different.

Yet Kobe is still Kobe.

He still believes he can overcome because, well, he always has, even against great odds. The people around him -- namely Scott -- believe the same. At times, though, everyone seems to forget that Kobe Bryant is, first and foremost, human.

The usual protocol for a nagging injury, Scott said, is for a player to go talk to the team’s trainer, Gary Vitti. Does Scott know if Bryant ever did that? “I don’t,” Scott said.

In hindsight, these issues appear greatly troubling, because just as Bryant must treat every aspect of his health, training and diet so seriously at this age just so he can perform, so too must the Lakers, and especially Scott, be ever so cautious with him.

That’s all the more true because Bryant is the Lakers’ sole attraction during an awful season, the lone reason for fans to tune in or attend games, all they really have to look forward to until the draft lottery. From a business sense, Bryant is their cash cow -- their extremely well-paid cash cow -- and thus missteps are extremely costly.

Where does blame lie? Certainly some falls on Bryant. He’s as powerful as any figure within the Lakers’ organization and as powerful as any player within any NBA franchise. If he wanted to play fewer minutes, he could have. If he wanted to get his shoulder examined earlier, he could have. The only person who could’ve stopped Kobe was Kobe, but he didn’t, because Kobe is Kobe. He believes he will overcome.

So the blame truly falls on Scott, who hasn’t been shy about admitting his fault in the issue. And, to a greater degree, the blame truly falls on the entire organization for not stepping in at some point earlier on when Bryant was playing all those minutes.

If the Lakers wanted a good lesson in how to handle superstars late in their careers, they only needed to glance down the sideline Friday.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he started resting Tim Duncan after winning the championship in 1999 “because the following year Timmy had a bad knee going into the playoffs. We had to make a decision.”

Duncan was 23 years old at the time and had just played his second NBA season.

“The docs cleared him, he could probably play, but I didn’t let him,” Popovich said. “I held him out. I did that with the thought of wanting him to have as long of a career as he wanted to. I didn’t want to take a chance to send him out there and do more damage to it. We had playoffs. So it started way back then.”

Fast-forward to Friday, and Duncan, now 38, had 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in 20 tidy minutes as the Spurs rolled to a double-digit win.

Scott has talked about the Spurs being the “blueprint” for how to properly rest players, and Popovich talked about that blueprint, the one the Lakers didn’t follow.

“You have a long view in the sense that you think about it, you look at the schedule at the beginning of the year, that kind of thing,” Popovich said. “Because it depends on how much people played in the last three days or last night and what’s coming up in the schedule or who else is hurt or injured.

“It’s never about wins or losses, it’s not about that,” Popovich said. “You don’t overplay somebody to get the win. Sometimes you’re in circumstances where it happens, like the two triple-overtimes we had. That really skewed things for us. I hated watching those guys play all those minutes, but I guess it would have been sweeter if we won. In general, it’s a process and you talk about it daily and weekly.”

The phrases “It’s never about wins and losses” and “You don’t overplay somebody to get the win” appear to be exactly what the Lakers didn’t do with Bryant early on this season, even though this season was never headed anywhere to begin with.

Either way, Bryant is now hurt, likely gone for the season, facing yet another rehab, and it’s not clear how this will affect what should be his final season in the NBA.

“Nobody wants to see that happen,” said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili. “It sucks. The league needs him. He’s one of the best players that ever played.”

"When somebody like that of that stature goes down, it’s not good for everybody, obviously for his team but for the league and you miss guys like Derrick Rose for instance, the last couple of years, or Kobe or anybody else like that," Popovich said.

"It’s a loss for the league, for fans, for all of us. I can think of a lot of shots Kobe’s made that’s basically knocked us out, and in an odd, weird sort of way I still enjoy it. When you see a talent like that, when they don’t play anymore then you say ‘Wow, I got to see so and so play.’ He’s one of those kind of guys.”

Spurs guard Tony Parker agreed.

“When I first came here, Spurs-Lakers, that’s all we talked about,” Parker said. “It was a huge rivalry, with him and Shaq. Those were great years.

“They always say good stuff has to have an end, but hopefully we can see him one more time next year and he’ll be healthy and finish on a high.”

Hopefully, that will be the case. Hopefully, Bryant can recover and go out on his own terms, whatever those may be. But considering he’s now facing his third consecutive season-ending injury, a storybook ending may simply not be possible, even for someone with such an iron will as Kobe Bryant.

He’ll have his five rings, but a graceful exit could elude him, and it’s hard not to look back at this season and wonder why more wasn’t done to help him achieve that.

'I’m doing some pretty phenomenal things'

January, 21, 2015
Jan 21
9:41
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Holmes By Baxter Holmes
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NEW ORLEANS -- Lakers coach Byron Scott said he'll continue to play Kobe Bryant in spots and on a minutes limit in an effort to help Bryant recover from playing too much earlier in the season.

Bryant, who averaged a team-high 35.4 minutes during the team's first 27 games, said he isn't sure when his body will feel as good as before, but he tried to downplay talk of fatigue.

"We make a lot of it, but the reality is, I’m doing some pretty phenomenal things in 30 minutes," Bryant said Wednesday after the Lakers' 96-80 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans here, his first game in nearly a week after sitting out two straight games to rest. "My body is not that [expletive] up."

Before Wednesday, Bryant had missed five of the team's previous eight games and eight of its past 15. Could this pattern of missing chunks of games lead to Bryant being in the lineup consistently again?

"I could play every game, yeah," Bryant said after scoring 14 points in 30 minutes against the Pelicans. "It’s just really Byron’s call, what he wants to do. Some games he wants me to rest, some games he doesn’t. It doesn’t really matter to me. I’m good either way."

Bryant also said that being out for a lengthy time and then returning isn't too much of an issue.

"It’s nothing for me," he said. "It’s like riding a bike. I get out there, I make plays. Some games we knock down shots, some games we don’t. The way I’m playing right now is really like riding a bike. It’s not overly complicated."

"I just read the defense and see what they’re giving up and try to make them play. No different than quarterbacks sitting in the pocket. Just trying to make the right reads and make the right plays."

The Lakers have their mindset on the future, specifically 2015-16, the last season on Bryant's contract and also likely his last in the NBA. But he said he doesn't look too far ahead.

"Honestly, it’s my job to be ready every night," Bryant said. "I just try to do my part, make sure I rest, make sure I get to stretch, make sure I do the strength training and all that stuff. Whatever call he makes, he makes ... but it’s my job to be ready."

Kobe Bryant describes his free-agent pitch

January, 21, 2015
Jan 21
9:04
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Holmes By Baxter Holmes
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video
NEW ORLEANS -- Kobe Bryant has a list of free agents that he plans to recruit to the Lakers this summer. It was revealed Wednesday, though not to anyone's surprise, that Rajon Rondo is on that list. Bryant said after a 96-80 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans that more players are on it, too.

While Bryant declined to name names, he did describe how he'll pitch those players.

"It’s a pretty simple message: it’s the best organization in the world, [one of] best brands in the world and we win championships. That’s what we do," Bryant said after scoring 14 points in 30 minutes.

"There will be much more that will be put onto that [message], in terms of X’s and O’s and style of play and things of that nature. There’s no place like winning in Los Angeles, man. This is the greatest brand in the world."

[+] EnlargeKobe Bryant
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillKobe Bryant hopes to lure talent to the Lakers with a persuasive pitch.
Other notable high-end free agents this upcoming summer include Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Goran Dragic. Kevin Love could also decide not to return to Cleveland.

Bryant tried to allay concerns about the Lakers' roster, which appears uncertain at best, especially as he is set to enter the final year of his contract with the Lakers in 2015-16.

Instead, Bryant praised Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and said free agents should have faith in his ability to rebuild.

"You’ve got to look at Mitch’s track record," Bryant said. "He’s phenomenal at this stuff. Phenomenal. So much so that the league had to protest a trade that he made. Think about that s--- ... What other GM could pull that off? So you’ve kind of got to lean on the track record of the front office and the decisions that they make. He makes really solid ones."

Bryant was referencing the 2011 multiteam trade that would've brought All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Lakers had it not been nixed for "basketball reasons" by then-NBA commissioner David Stern.

Kobe Bryant will play against New Orleans

January, 21, 2015
Jan 21
11:31
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Holmes By Baxter Holmes
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NEW ORLEANS -- Lakers coach Byron Scott said his star shooting guard, Kobe Bryant, will return to the starting lineup Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, Bryant's first game in almost a week. Scott added that Bryant wouldn't play more than 32 minutes, his usual limit.

Bryant hasn't played since Jan. 15 against Cleveland, missing the Lakers' past two games to rest. The 36-year-old has been sitting out more and more lately; he has missed five of the team's previous eight games and eight of its past 15.

Part of the reason Bryant has been sitting out lately is so both he and the Lakers can preserve him for next season, his 20th in the NBA and the final year of his contract with the Lakers.

But the other aspect, which Scott revealed after the shootaround Wednesday morning, is that Bryant is still recovering from a heavy minutes load that he played earlier this season. Bryant averaged a team-high 35.4 minutes during the team's first 27 games.

"With all the minutes that I put on him early, I’m still playing catch-up to try to get that down to where I feel, 'OK, now we’re about right,'" Scott said. "We’ve still got 10-15 games to go before I think we can get there."

Scott was asked if he meant that Bryant would need to miss 10 to 15 more games to rest, but he clarified his point, stating that Bryant would need 10 to 15 more games of playing 32 minutes or fewer while resting certain games in between "to kind of catch up."

Including Wednesday's game, the Lakers have 40 games remaining on the schedule, so Scott's plan would likely last through the end of the season.

Scott said he and Bryant haven't planned for him to miss certain games so that he can play in others that are more high profile against big-name players.

"We haven’t gone that far at all," Scott said. "We’ve never talked about an opponent. We’ve just talked about the days in between to try to get the rest, and then whoever is up next is up next."

Kobe, LeBron all smiles near rivalry's end

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
7:14
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LeBron JamesHarry How/Getty ImagesLeBron James laughs with Kobe Bryant after a missed dunk in front of J.R. Smith during the first half of the Cavaliers' 109-102 win.
LOS ANGELES -- They started joking back and forth in the second quarter. While one of his teammates shot free throws on one end of the court, LeBron James stood on the other, next to the Lakers' bench, sharing laughs with Kobe Bryant.

They continued yukking it up throughout Thursday night, and after James’ Cavaliers beat Bryant’s Lakers 109-102, the two had a long embrace and more laughs at center court. Then they greeted each other again in the tunnel on their way out of the Staples Center, chatted, hugged and laughed some more.

Although they acted like they were teammates more than opponents, Bryant pointed out after the game that he wasn’t always so friendly with certain members of the opposition, including James.

“It’s a little different now,” Bryant said after scoring 19 points and tallying a career-high 17 assists in the loss. “Some years ago, both competing for championships, it was a little different. It was a lot more moody. Now it’s a little different. I’ve got a chance to really appreciate the competition and enjoy that interaction. We’ve gotten to know each other really well over the years. It’s good to see him.”

James agreed.

“It’s always fun and a pleasure,” the Cavaliers’ star said after scoring a game-high 36 points. “There are two big competitors, and to be on the same court as him, who I looked up to when I was a child, growing up and seeing him go from high school straight into the NBA, you know, it’s fun. It’s great. I hated him being out of the league because of the injury, but it’s fun having him back.”

James added of the matchup, "You don’t take that for granted, for sure. You don’t have many guys that come through this sport like Kobe.”

Bryant, 36, mentioned that he has more perspective at this point, knowing that he doesn’t have much time left in the NBA in general.

“I really won’t get a chance to play against [James] on the court for much longer," Bryant said. "You want to enjoy it.”

Other players seemed to get that sense as well Thursday, even during the course of the game.

“It was great to be a part of it,” said Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 22 points. “[They are] two great players going at it. I want to be part of that as a competitor. Who knows how long that will last?”

Cavaliers coach David Blatt said he wasn’t thinking about the Bryant-James matchup until after the game.

“Now that I have a chance to reflect a little bit, yes, that’s very special,” Blatt said. “For the fans, for the players that are involved, for all of us, those are two all-time greats going at it and going at it like two prize fighters within the context of the team. ... It’s great to see two guys at that level playing the game at such a level for so many years and still involving their teammates in the way that they did.”

James and Bryant have never squared off in the NBA Finals, and Bryant said he wished that could have happened.

“Absolutely, which makes me appreciate what I grew up watching with Magic [Johnson] and [Larry] Bird,” Bryant said, “because you understand how hard it is to get to those Finals, let alone as a fan, seeing the two best players in the league match up with each other in the Finals over and over. We were just really, really fortunate, all of us, to see that happen. As a player growing up, once you get to that level, you want to have that same kind of rivalry, you know what I mean? It just never happened.”

But if opposing players and coaches are talking about appreciating Bryant, or if television announcers are reminding viewers to do the same during a nationally televised broadcast, as they did Thursday, well, that feels new and just a bit awkward for him.

“This is different for me, man, because I’m used to being hated,” Bryant said. “It’s really unnatural. It’s like, you go up against somebody and they give you a hug -- ‘Wait. What the hell are you doing? You’re supposed to say something nasty.’ It’s a different feeling, but I’m really appreciative of it. It feels good. Getting a hug feels good.”

Would more milk do NBA players good?

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
9:00
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Holmes By Baxter Holmes
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RandleAP Photo/Mark J. TerrillA broken leg cut Julius Randle's rookie season short. Would more dairy in his diet have helped?
When Lakers rookie forward Julius Randle suffered a broken leg in his NBA debut, most believed it was just a freak accident. Dr. Cate Shanahan, the director of the Lakers PRO Nutrition Program, has a different view.

“He just didn’t have enough dairy in his life,” Shanahan said.

It’s not an issue that she believes is exclusive to Randle.

From the broken leg suffered by Indiana Pacers forward Paul George in August to the broken leg that Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered in the 2013 NCAA tournament, Shanahan believes there’s a dangerous trend, one that she said she predicted would happen a few years ago.

“From my perspective, there’s an epidemic of bone health problems in pro sports because guys are drinking soda instead of milk,” Shanahan said. “They’re just not getting enough calcium.”

She said she has calculated that some players are only getting 25 to 30 percent of the recommended daily calcium intake. (Webmd.com recommends that adult males between 19 and 50 take 1,000 milligrams of calcium on a daily basis.)

But she also stressed that taking calcium pills isn’t enough to help strengthen bones. “We’re not designed to eat pills,” she said.

Shanahan said a key issue is the stigma surrounding dairy products.

“The big thing you get from dieticians is you have to worry about fat,” she said. “Dieticians are obsessed with calories. For some reason, they’re more obsessed about fat calories than sugar calories.”

That notion has largely carried over into the world of professional sports, she said. The end result, she said, is more catastrophic leg injuries from something as innocuous as a misplaced landing, such as what happened to George.

“It’s more what you’d expect when somebody is hit by a car versus when somebody is landing wrong,” she said.

Randle’s injury was even more perplexing to her.

“According to what I saw [with Randle], it wasn’t even the landing,” she said. “The problem started on takeoff. It looked to me like he twisted his leg when he broke off the ground.”

Regardless, Shanahan said the Lakers don’t look at dairy in a negative light. They serve players grass-fed cheese and Kobe Bryant drinks a low-sugar chocolate milk after games specially prepared by Whole Foods.

“We promote dairy,” Shanahan said. “We try to downplay the role of soda and even energy drinks.”

No plans to shut Kobe's season down ... yet

January, 14, 2015
Jan 14
3:06
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott said there haven't been any discussions with management or Kobe Bryant about shutting down the star guard for the rest of the season.

So far.

"I’m pretty sure if we’re [not in] playoff contention in March or something like that, then we might discuss that," Scott said after the team's practice Wednesday, "but right now, the plan right now is to continue to play."

The Lakers haven't been anywhere near playoff contention the past two seasons. They lost a franchise-record 55 games last season and began this season with a 3-13 record, their worst start ever.

As of Wednesday, the Lakers had the fourth-worst record in the NBA (12-27), the second-worst in the Western Conference and sat 10 games back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

But Scott reiterated that the team's plan for Bryant, who has missed six of the past 12 games to rest, will be more about preserving him for the remainder of his NBA career.

"It's just the way of life right now for us as a basketball team and as an organization," Scott said. "This is what we have to go through to maintain Mr. Bryant -- getting to where we know he can be not only for the rest of this year but going into next year as well. We’re going to try to preserve him as much as possible. That’s the biggest thing."

Next season marks the final year of Bryant's two-year $48.5 million deal, and if Bryant sits out games from now until the end, Scott said, " I don’t think it’s going to mess with his legacy whatsoever. His legacy is set."

Scott added, "Sometimes you’ve got to save players from themselves as well. I don’t want him to play 35, 36 minutes a game and then at the end of the season going into next season, he’s spent. ... He signed a two-year deal, he wants to play that two years out and he wants to play at a high level and I want to preserve him as much as possible so he’s able to do that."

Bryant is expected to play Thursday when the Lakers host the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center.

Scott not dwelling on Kobe minutes mistake

January, 12, 2015
Jan 12
4:27
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant has sat out three of the Los Angeles Lakers' past four games and six of their past 11 -- all in the name of rest after playing far too many minutes earlier this season.

Lakers coach Byron Scott admits Bryant's heavy work load was his fault, but he's trying not to dwell on the mistake.

“You try to move away from it and forget about it,” Scott said Monday. “But it’s hard to do when you have a guy you care about so much and you think you kind of messed up. I think I played him too much early.

"If I would’ve stuck to the 32 minutes or 33 at the most, he might have been able to play a little bit more of these games that he’s missed. But you know what, I realize it. You have to move on from it, learn from your mistakes and go forward."

Bryant appeared to be rested enough to participate in part of the team's practice here Monday, doing light shooting and half-court drills. He didn't speak to reporters after but is expected to play Tuesday when the Lakers host the Miami Heat.

However, Scott said they'll determine whether Bryant plays against Miami based on how Bryant feels Tuesday morning and again before the game.

"He knows I want to do the very best that he can, but I want him to be the very best basketball player he can be," Scott said. "In order for him to do that, he has to be rested and ready to go."

Scott reiterated that Bryant's status is "game-to-game," but he said he plans to sit the 36-year-old Bryant on Friday when the Lakers travel to Utah to play the Jazz because that game is the second of a back-to-back set.

Though Scott has admitted publicly it's his own fault for playing Bryant too much, Scott said he hasn't admitted that to Bryant.

"I had a number, he had a number and I told him, 'Well, my number is higher, so I’m going to stick with my number and we’ll go from there,'" Scott said. "My number was probably a little too high. It probably ended up costing him a few games here and there. I’ve got to make sure I stick to this number."

Bryant deferred to Scott when it came to making the decisions about playing time.

“His reaction was ‘Coach, whatever you want to do,’” Scott said. "Some of the statistical things that are available to us, what I ended up finding out was, when he hit the 32-minute [mark], when he went over that, his game went down.

"So that four or five minutes [were] crucial. He’s much more fresh at the end of the games when he’s at the 30-minute mark with two minutes left in the game than he was when he was at the 33- or 34-minute mark with two or three minutes left in the game."

In the Lakers' first 27 games, Bryant played a team-high 35.4 minutes per game and shot a career-low 37.2 percent from the field. He then sat out three consecutive games to rest in late December. After he returned, he focused more on being a facilitator instead of trying to shoulder the scoring load.

Still, the cumulative effect of such a heavy minutes load for a player in his 19th NBA season appears to still be affecting Bryant, and Scott said his approach with Bryant from now on will be much more conservative.

"The only way it’s working is if Kobe is fine with it, if he understands this is all for the long run," Scott said. "He’s allowing me to just say, 'Hey, I’m proud of you and I know you want to play, but I don’t think tonight is a good night.' And again, that falls on me."

Ideally, Scott said he wants Bryant to get back to where he was before training camp.

“He felt great and he was healthy," Scott said. "When you start training camp, you won’t be healthy the rest of the season. You’ll have aches and pains. But when you play 19 years ... he’s going to have his share of aches and pains. I added to that. Right now what I can do is give him more rest when I can to benefit him in the long run.”

Kobe Bryant a game-time decision Sunday

January, 10, 2015
Jan 10
3:22
PM PT
Buha By Jovan Buha
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is a game-time decision for the Lakers’ game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

[+] EnlargeKobe Bryant
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesKobe Bryant's status for Sunday's game against the Trail Blazers is up in the air.
“I don’t know yet,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said at practice when asked of Bryant’s availability for Sunday. “I’ll talk to him today and see how he feels. I’ll come to him tomorrow, see how he feels. Then tomorrow night at the game, we’ll see how he feels and then we’ll go from there.”

After being pressed by reporters on the ambiguity of his answer, Scott maintained his stance.

“Like I said, I’ll talk to him today,” Scott said. “I’ll see him tomorrow. We’ll talk in the morning. We’ll talk before the game, obviously. Then we’ll go from there.”

Scott's plan continues to be determining Bryant's status on a game-by-game basis.

Bryant, who has sat out five of the Lakers’ last 10 games, most recently rested during the Lakers’ 101-84 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday. Bryant has struggled during the 10-game stretch, averaging just 14.4 points per game on 41.0 percent shooting.

Kobe Bryant to miss Magic game

January, 9, 2015
Jan 9
7:28
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Lakers star Kobe Bryant will sit out his fifth game of the season to rest Friday against the Orlando Magic at Staples Center here.

“I talked to him a little bit [Friday] and asked him how he felt,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said before the game. “He said he felt OK. I said, ‘OK you'll rest tonight.’ It's pretty simple. He didn’t fight me on it. He's stuck to his word as far as allowing me to make that decision for him, and I thought [Friday night] would be a good night for him to rest.”

Entering Friday, the Lakers were 1-3 without the 36-year-old Bryant, who also sat out Monday's road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, a game that marked the second of a back-to-back set for the Lakers.

Bryant was then ineffective Wednesday in a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. He finished with 4 points on 2-of-12 shooting in 28 minutes and failed to score until midway through the third quarter.

Scott reiterated that the process of deciding whether to play Bryant still varies game to game.

"A lot of depends on how I feel that he feels and the one thing that he has been with me is totally honest," Scott said. "And that’s all I can ask for and if I don’t think that he feels 110 percent then I’m going to sit him down."

But is it reasonable to expect Bryant will feel that way at any point this season, given the amount of mileage on his legs now that he's in his 19th NBA season?

"He probably won’t feel great, like I said, but I want him to be as close to 100 percent as possible," Scott said. "Right now, again, it’s my choice, so if I gotta take heat, if that’s what you [reporters] are giving me for it then I’ll take the heat, but I just felt, just talking to him this morning, just give him another day or so."

Scott said in order for Bryant to play, he needs to hear "just that conviction that he feels great. I didn't feel that [Friday.]"

The challenge is giving Bryant enough rest but not too much.

"It is a challenge because you don’t want to give four, five days off because that messes up your rhythm," Scott said. "To me, personally, it hurts your conditioning as well. So you want to keep him in great shape as he is, but you also want him to have that rhythm so he doesn’t have to be fighting the rust. So right now for me it’s a catch-22. And again, like I said, the most important thing to me is to think about Kobe. Not the basketball aspect of it, but thinking about Kobe."

More rest helps Kobe deliver in clutch

January, 5, 2015
Jan 5
12:23
AM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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video

LOS ANGELES -- It had been a while.

In fact, until Sunday, Kobe Bryant had missed all five of his potential go-ahead shots with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter or overtime this season.

In other words, a star long known for being clutch wasn't being clutch at all.

Maybe that's understandable.

[+] EnlargeKobe Bryant
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsKobe Bryant had 20 points, six rebounds and six assists against the Pacers on Sunday.
Bryant is 36 and in his 19th NBA season. He has a ton of mileage on his legs and is coming off two major injuries (knee, Achilles). And up until recently, he was playing heavy minutes, shooting a ton of shots and consistently complaining about fatigue.

Factor that all in, and it's no wonder why Bryant was failing with the game on the line.

"I would try to dominate, but my body just couldn't hold up to it," Bryant said after the Los Angeles Lakers' 88-87 win over the Indiana Pacers. "So I wind up missing a lot of shots that I normally make and they all kept falling short."

But Sunday was different.

Bryant scored the Lakers' final nine points at Staples Center, including hitting a go-ahead, one-handed floater in the lane with 12.4 seconds to go.

That timely late-game performance came after Bryant recently sat out three games to rest, after Lakers coach Byron Scott started reducing Bryant's minutes, and after Bryant tweaked his overall style of play, becoming much more of a facilitator.

Factor all that in, and it's no wonder why Bryant came up clutch against the Pacers.

"I feel good. I feel really, really good," Bryant said after scoring 20 points on an efficient 7-of-14 shooting from the floor in 32 minutes.

Said Scott, "I love the fact that it just seems like he has more energy. He obviously has his legs, he's been well rested and he's able to just, if he has to carry us in that fourth quarter, which he was able to do."

Bryant also credited how he has played since sitting out to rest recently.

"I've switched up a little bit," he said. "I've gone to more of an old-man game instead of trying to beat guys off the dribble, which is a lot of stop-and-go and it wears down the joints. I just back 'em down, man. Back 'em down, take my time and that saves a lot."

That approach is night-and-day different from the Bryant we're used to seeing.

"Very night-and-day [different]," he said. "My game used to be really predicated off of pull-up jump shots, stop-and-go movements, a lot of explosiveness, change of directions. I've been able to adjust so far and change it up."

Part of that adjustment is Bryant trusting his teammates more.

"I think they feel more accountable because they know I'm going to come to them, and I'm going to keep coming to them and they don't want to let me down," Bryant said.

"When they miss a shot, it's like, 'Hey, I'll make the next one.' I think they feel more self-accountable and more responsible about knocking those down because I'm putting my trust in them."

Consider it a new trend.

In the Lakers' first 27 games, Bryant attempted a league-leading 22.4 shots a game, shooting just 37.2 percent from the field. In the previous three games entering Sunday, he was averaging 11.7 shots and shooting 45.7 percent.

So not only was Bryant suddenly shooting less and more efficiently, but he was also rebounding more and piling up more assists, averaging nearly a triple-double in those three games entering Sunday.

He continued to be more well-rounded against the Pacers, adding six assists, six rebounds and three steals.

"That's all just where my body is," he said. "It can't take that workload any more. So from that standpoint, you just have to accept it and then try to dominate the game a different way."

Nick Young led the Lakers with 22 points off the bench as one of five Lakers to score in double figures. And though Bryant said he's more trusting of his teammates, he can still be a dictator, a leadership style that can turn off many.

"It's a balance," Bryant said. "I drive a hard bargain. That's just never going to change. If it breaks you, then you don't belong here. If it doesn't, then you'll win championships. Simple as that."

But Bryant appears to also be accepting reality, part of which means he'll miss more games to rest, including Monday when the Lakers travel to Portland to play the Trail Blazers. Bryant isn't even traveling with the team to that one, the second of a back-to-back set.

Coming into the season, did Bryant think he might actually miss games to rest?

"I mean, we talked about it a little bit at media day," Bryant said. "I said it wasn't going to be an issue. Everybody thought we were crazy, but it's really not. You just have to be honest about who you really are. I'm fine with it. I understand my body. I know I can't do what I used to do. It's completely fine."

He added, "I understand it. I have many faults, but one of my strengths is that I can be realistic and then I can build around that. I can understand what my weaknesses are, what I can and can't do, accept it and then try to dominate it that way."

It all helped him hit another classic shot when the stakes were highest, and it couldn't have come at a better time, as many were beginning to note how often he kept coming up short in those situations these days.

"It's not something that I worry about," Bryant said with a smile. "I've hit plenty of them in my day. I think the city of L.A. is a little spoiled by it."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.1
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.5
BlocksE. Davis 1.1