Because the Los Angeles Lakers going 0-7 this preseason is not painful enough, here is a real reason for mild concern heading into the season opener against the Dallas Mavericks: Kobe Bryant is on the shelf.
Laker fans may not be putting a lot of stake into a winless preseason schedule that has seen their superstar starters only play one game together and the bench be an abysmal non-factor, but there is no getting around Bryant missing the final two preseason games with a sore right foot and Mike Brown’s crew hobbling into the regular season without Bryant.
I don't know if he'll be ready," Brown said after Wednesday nights 97-91 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
"So yeah, I guess there is question. I'm just going to wait for [Lakers trainer] Gary Vitti to tell me he can play because there's nothing I can do about it until they release him anyway.
When that release for Bryant will come remains up in the air. At least for one night Dwight Howard had some company on the sideline.
Howard missed Wednesday's game too after experiencing soreness early in the week following his first game action in six months following back surgery. Although he is gradually getting his conditioning back, Howard should be good to go Thursday when the Lakers play the Sacramento Kings in preseason action.
Bryant’s words of wisdom this week for Howard was to “be patient, be smart” about returning from his back injury.
But will Bryant heed his own advice when it comes to his foot?
You gotta listen to your body, that's really the biggest thing, listening to your body and not trying to get too far ahead of yourself," Bryant said regarding Howard.
He might as well have been talking about himself.
At 34 years old and never a player to shy away from the spotlight, big shot or drawing contact away or at the rim, the game and "Father Time" is starting to take a toll on Bryant’s body over the last few seasons. We are not talking about fatigue here, a factor Kobe constantly deals with season in and season out enduring a grueling 82-game regular season and deep postseason runs — not to mention the preseason and training camp.
We are talking about racking up injuries: last May it was his shin, there was the nasal fracture at the All-Star Game and of course his arthritic right knee which he received treatment and much publicity for. Sure, this is Kobe and he is certainly persevered through the pain over his illustrious 17-year career. But this is also an aging superstar — an aging superstar who could now miss the season opener (and maybe more) for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The preseason record and games may be meaningless.
The same can’t be said for Kobe Bryant’s injury.