Kobe Bryant, who injured his ankle late in the Los Angeles Lakers' Sunday loss to the New Orleans Hornets, refused to undergo an MRI or X-rays on Monday despite the insistence of the team's training staff, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times. Kobe maintains that he'll play in Game 5 of the series on Tuesday. The Hornets pulled into a 2-2 tie on Sunday as Chris Paul registered a magnificent triple-double, occassionally with Bryant himself guarding him.
Kobe injured his ankle, though, guarding the somewhat less devilish Willie Green. Bryant missed just 15 seconds of game action, refusing to exit for Shannon Brown in the final minute of the game. He did come out as Brown took over on a defensive possession; Bryant eventually missed a fading three-pointer with four seconds left that guaranteed the Hornets' win.
Medina digs into why Kobe refused the tests; the overarching theme seems to be that he doesn't want to know if there's seriously something wrong, and doesn't want to have a public face-off with the franchise if the results show an injury he cannot play on without risk of serious injury. Let it be noted, however, that Kobe is a P.R. master who is certainly the most image-conscious NBA player active today, and maybe only second in history to Michael Jordan. In particular, Bryant has sought to bolster his (earned, in fairness) reputation as a tough hombre.