“Pride only hurts, it never helps.”
– Marsellus Wallace, Pulp Fiction
In the latest bad news for the defending champions, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is subsequently refusing to undergo an MRI or x-rays for further testing after injuring his left foot in Game 4.
How this helps the Lakers, the training staff, his teammates or himself is lost on just about everyone. Simply finding out what’s ailing him wouldn’t necessarily stop him from playing Game 5, unless major damage was discovered, but a franchise with so much invested in the aging superstar has a right to know (at the very least) whether playing him now would cause further damage and/or keep him from playing future rounds if they manage to survive the series against the New Orleans Hornets.
But stopping the Hornets has been a huge problem for the Lakers even with a supposedly healthy Kobe and there isn’t anyone else on the roster that has shown the ability to stay in front of the Hornet’s star point guard Chris Paul.
With contributing players such as former Lakers forward Trevor Ariza stepping up big time, the Hornets have overcome an up-and-down season and the loss, due to injury, of former All-Star David West, to surprise the team many had penciled in to make it to the NBA Finals and would breeze through the first-round.
Now their best player is injured and he’s apparently only thinking about himself precisely when the team needs him to lead them.
“It doesn’t matter. He’s going to play anyway,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said on Monday. “That’s his answer.”
A gimpy Kobe shooting the Lakers out of the playoffs is not what Jackson had in mind when he announced earlier this year that this would be his last season working the sideline. But if the coach can’t consistently hammer the Hornets inside with his talented frontline of Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol, then this series will go down as one of the biggest upsets in playoff history.
There’s no denying that age has caught up with Kobe but his well-documented work ethic and passion for the game had previously staved off any questions of whether he was still an elite player capable of leading his team to another ring. After a strong run since the All-Star break, many forgot about Los Angeles’ struggles earlier in the season or the fact Kobe wasn’t even practicing with the team because of his ailing right knee that even he acknowledged had very little cartilage left.
If the Hornets, who were 5-5 in their last 10 regular season games and had lost three in a row to close out the season, are going to give them this much trouble then it would be best for the Lakers to blame Kobe’s injury on their struggles.
Too bad they don’t know what injury he has.