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Thursday, December 22, 2011
Updated: December 23, 2:56 PM ET
Kobe Bryant: I should be fine

By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant played all 82 games last season with a right knee that he described as "bone on bone." He isn't about to let a torn ligament in his right wrist make him miss the Lakers' season opener on Sunday against the Chicago Bulls.

"I should be fine," said Bryant after Lakers practice Thursday. "... It's always been in my nature to try to figure out a way to play. The injuries that I've had, I've been fortunate enough to be able to play through them because I haven't had injuries where they could get worse the more I played on them."

The 16-year veteran did not practice, using the time to receive treatment on his wrist that he injured when falling to the floor in the third quarter of the Lakers' 114-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.

Bryant underwent an MRI exam Wednesday that showed he has a torn lunotriquetral ligament. The lunotriquetral ligament is a band of tissue that connects bones in the wrist.

Bryant, who was wearing a bulky ice pack/compression device on the wrist when speaking to reporters, described the injury as "swollen and painful."

However, he said his condition is improving.

"It feels OK," Bryant said. "It feels a little better today than it did yesterday."

Bryant said he will not risk any further damage to his wrist by playing through the injury.

"It's not really going to heal. I mean, it's gone," Bryant said. "The ligament is gone. So there's nothing I can do about it. But I've dealt with so many hand injuries. It should be all right."

In the summer before Bryant's rookie season, he broke his left wrist falling to the ground during a pickup game at Venice Beach. During the 2007-08 season, he tore a ligament in his right pinky finger when catching his hand on Jason Kidd's jersey while going for a steal. During the 2009-10 season, he suffered an avulsion fracture to his right index finger when a pass by Jordan Farmar was deflected off the tip of his finger. While playing through the fracture, his index finger became arthritic.

"If you can play through the pain and you can catch a ball, pass a ball, you should be fine," Bryant said.

Bryant has played in 1,103 out of a possible 1,230 regular season games during his 15 seasons in the league.

New Lakers coach Mike Brown said this wasn't the first time he's witnessed Bryant's will to play through injuries.

"We were talking earlier about a story today with myself, and Kobe and [Lakers assistant coach John] Kuester," said Brown. "A couple of years ago, we played the Lakers. And it was in front of our bench, I'm glad I didn't see it, because I might have passed out, but Kobe popped one of his fingers out of place. As you can see, I'm queasy thinking about it. Kuester was like, 'Man! We might have a chance!' And all Kobe did was, boop, pull it out, put it back in and he continued playing.

"You know, you talk about a guy with a high tolerance of pain, it's Kobe. So nothing would surprise me at this point, in terms of him playing or not playing."

Brown anticipates Bryant will play against Chicago, but practiced an alternative plan Thursday just in case he sits out.

"He didn't practice today, so when we scripted and did drills, obviously with him not on the floor, we went with the lineup that didn't have him in it," Brown said. "So either way, I think our guys will be ready to play."

Bryant said his treatment has been centered around "whatever we can to get the swelling out."

"It just swolled up," Bryant said. "[Monday] night it just got really big. [Tuesday] morning, I woke up, it felt a little better. I tried practicing with it. I couldn't do much. The swelling still got worse. That's when I knew we had something else going on. I just tried to take care of it."

The 13-time All-Star said his treatment has included manual therapy and different stretches and exercises to improve his range of motion in the wrist.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.