Sprained left ankle, June 2000
Despite Bryant leaving during the first quarter of game two of the 2000 NBA finals after suffering a severe sprain, the Lakers still went on to defeat the Indiana Pacers 111-104, taking a 2-0 series lead. Bryant missed the next game, but came back atop a badly sprained ankle to carry the Lakers in a 120-118 overtime victory in game four. He scored 22 points in the second half and overtime alone, including the final six points and a blocked shot with 2:33 left to play. His heroics were a slightly bigger deal considering Shaquille O’Neal had fouled out and Bryant was literally the Lakers last hope at preventing the Pacers from tying the series two-all.
Sprained right shoulder, January 2004
On the night of Bryant’s first of many matchups against then-Cleveland Cavalier superstar LeBron James, Bryant sprained the acromio clavicular joint in his right shoulder. Although the Lakers were already without O’Neal and Karl Malone, Bryant missed six games and re-aggravated the injury upon his return against the Supersonics. The Lakers training staff believed Bryant’s injury would sideline him for at least another month, however, he took the team plane to Boston instead and played, helping the Lakers defeat the Celtics with 18 points and 10 assists.
Sprained right ankle, January 2005
Bryant had to be helped off the court after sustaining a severely sprained right ankle, the worst—as he described—he had experienced during his career up until that point. After missing nearly a month of basketball (16 games), Bryant returned and scored 26 points in a losing effort to the Cavaliers.
Sprained right pinkie, February 2008
Originally listed as a dislocated pinkie on 2/5/08, Lakers training staff found Bryant had actually sustained further damage on the pinkie days later. Tests revealed the radial collateral ligament was completely torn and he had an avulsion fracture (small fragment of bone was pulled off by a tendon). Bryant continued to play at a high level and opted not to address the injury in the off-season. He’s sense adjusted to playing with the injury, winning back-to-back titles in the process.
Back injury, Playoffs 2008
During the conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz, Bryant suffered an injury to his lower back, something he hadn’t yet experienced. He described himself as sore, stiff and tight, still Bryant left no doubt he would continue to play in game 5. He played 46-minutes, in obvious pain, and scored 26 points en route to the Lakers defeating the Jazz 111-104, taking a 3-2 series lead.