Sunday, March 8, 2009

Kobe Bryant's right hand

The Los Angeles Lakers' star shooting guard, Kobe Bryant, has banged up his shooting hand (right) quite a bit, to say the least, and yet he is putting up MVP numbers again this season.

It all started last season in 2008 when Bryant dislocated his right pinky in a game versus the New Jersey Nets on Feb. 5. According to injury news, Bryant then aggravated his pinky in a game versus the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 13. The next day, he was "...diagnosed with a complete tear of the radial collateral ligament, an avulsion fracture, and a volar plate injury at the MCP joint of the small finger of this right hand.”

Bryant was told that the injury would require surgery to fix completely, forcing him to miss around six weeks or more. Bryant decided on playing through the injury, and planned to get the surgery done after both the NBA season and play-offs as well as Team USA Basketball's gold medal run in the 2008 Olympics. Bryant ended up having a MVP-winning season, and then led his team to the finals, where they lost two games to four against the Boston Celtics. He did, though, help Team USA win gold.

However, after the Olympics ended, Bryant was told by the doctor that surgery would keep him out longer than initially expected. Bryant decided on holding off on surgery, feeling he had adapted perfectly to playing with it, not wanting to miss out on the Lakers' early portion of the season.

Then, this season in a Jan. 19 game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bryant dislocated his right ring finger while trying to poke the ball out of the hands of Cavaliers' star LeBron James.

The Lakers then called a time-out to take care of Bryant's injury. Their team athletic trainer, Gary Vitti, popped Bryant's dislocated finger back in. Vitti then wrapped it up and Bryant returned to the court. Fighting through the evidently excruciating pain, Bryant helped his team defeat the Cavaliers, 105-88, with only three good fingers on his right hand.

Fortunately, the dislocation didn't cause any serious damage, nor did it require any surgery. So far, Bryant has not missed a game since the 2006-2007 season.

A little over a week later, in a game versus the Charlotte Bobcats, Bryant skinned and cut his right palm while diving for a loose ball. Bryant fought to keep his team in the game, but was fouled out in the final minute of the first of two overtimes. The Lakers ended up losing in double overtime, 110-117.

A few days later on Jan. 30 in a game versus the Timberwolves, Bryant reopened the cut on his right palm after dunking the ball. It was bandaged and he returned to the game to lead the Lakers to a 132-119 victory. A day later, Bryant fell into teammate Andrew Bynum's right knee, injuring him.

Since then, Bryant has led his team to the league's best record at 50 wins and 12 losses, and hopes that by this time next year, he'll have another ring to put on his fingers.

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