Kobe Bryant discusses balky knee
"It's as close to 100 percent as it's going to get," said Bryant before the Lakers hosted the New York Knicks on Thursday.
Bryant, usually loathsome to discuss his injuries and protective that his medical procedures are kept private, opened up about his health status when asked about New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez's recent trip to Germany to be treated by the same physician that Bryant visited in the offseason.
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"I gave him the phone number," Bryant said, revealing he recommended Peter Wehling to treat the Yankee star's knee and shoulder after experiencing success when his own right knee and left ankle were treated by Wehling. "I just told him it made a huge difference for me. I'm 95 percent better, if not to say 100."
It was the fourth procedure that Bryant, 33, has undergone on the knee since 2003, but it was less invasive than other surgeries, as it centered around blood manipulation rather than removing any loose bodies or frayed ligaments.
While the 16-year veteran is reporting a clean bill of health when it comes to his knee, the wrist remains a work in progress.
"It feels all right," Bryant said.
He has averaged 27.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists through the Lakers' first three games after tearing his lunotriquetral ligament in the preseason opener.
"It feels a lot better today than it did before the last game," he added.
Even with the improvement, Bryant's right hand appeared severely swollen.
Coach Mike Brown marveled at his shooting guard's ability to play with the injury.
"It's hard to put into words how tough the guy is," Brown said before the game. "You saw his hand. It's for real. ... He's tough. It hurts, but he has not said one thing about it. Not one thing."
Before the season opener Bryant said the wrist was "not really going to heal," and claimed the ligament is "gone," but he has considered visiting Wehling after the season is over to have him try to help in the healing process.
"I might be able to do something with the wrist," Bryant said. "Right now it's only for injuries that are arthritic in nature. The wrist isn't arthritic."
Bryant said the injury affects his range of motion and causes pain, but said it should not affect his dribbling ability.
"I don't need to go side to side as long as I can cock it," Bryant said.
Bryant's other chronic hand injury, a fractured index finger on his shooting hand, is apparently also as good as it's going to get.
"That's just kind of become bone on bone and kind of healed itself and off we go," Bryant said.
Bryant has opted against taping up the finger with a heavy wrap this season, as had been his custom in the past since injuring it early in the 2009-10 season.
The Lakers have embraced Bryant's openness to trying innovative medical attention. Brown planned a team outing to a cryotherapy clinic in Sacramento before the game on Tuesday to undergo extreme cold treatment with the purpose of alleviating pain and swelling in their bodies.
Bryant, who says he pays people on his "staff" to look into alternative medical options, says he is open to trying anything as long as it "makes sense."
"You can't just try something just to try it," Bryant said. "It has to make sense. It has to be something that you can back up with research and study and things like that."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.