Last year, Kobe Bryant suffered his third consecutive season-ending injury in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Bryant tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder and was ruled out for the rest of the year after playing in only 35 games.
With the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Pelicans in New Orleans on Thursday, head coach Byron Scott reflected on the night of Bryant’s shoulder injury last year. Scott says Kobe claimed to be okay and was ready to start using his left hand via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
“You all right?” Scott recalled asking Bryant after morning shootaround on Thursday.
“My shoulder is a little messed up, but I have my left hand,” Scott remembered Bryant saying. “I have another hand. With how tough he is, he said I’m good.”
Lakers trainer Gary Vitti wasn’t thrilled with the idea of Bryant using his left hand while playing with an injured right shoulder. Vitti demanded Scott pull the five-time NBA champion to get his shoulder checked out.
Another testament to Bryant’s toughness with his willingness to play through the pain. Although the injury was something Kobe may have been able to battle through, season-ending surgery was the best option for the aging veteran.
Unfortunately, the recovery process would take the same amount time as it did following surgery on his torn Achilles tendon in 2013. Kobe was forced to go through another nine-month recovery period in which he was unable to shoot a basketball, but was able to return for 20th and final season with the Lakers.
On Thursday night, Bryant and company will begin a four-game road trip in New Orleans. The Lakers will continue the road trip as they take on the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday followed by the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday and Wednesday of next week.