Since being declared out indefinitely, the question now turns to how quickly he'll recover. When he spoke to reporters after the game, he was asked whether or not the ankle injury was as bad as the one he suffered in the 2000 NBA Finals vs. the Indiana Paces.
"Yup," he told reporters via Time Warner Cable SportsNet's telecast.
A then-21-year-old Bryant suffered a painful sprain in Game 2 of that crucial series that was severe enough to keep him out in Game 3. He would return to string together a clutch performance when the Lakers sorely needed one in Game 4 and lift them to a commanding 3-1 series lead and win his first of five NBA championships.
Bryant's mental toughness when fighting through injuries is well-documented.
He's played the last several seasons with a damaged right index finger that will likely never recover fully. He last sustained an ankle injury in the 2011 postseason series against the New Orleans Hornets. He didn't miss any time then, but was clearly hobbled as the Lakers got swept out of the playoffs by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.
The Lakers are 34-32 and are narrowly handing on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the competitive Western Conference. He is the most valuable player to his team by far, and for that reason, he can't afford to miss any significant time.
No one would be surprised if Bryant suits up on Friday vs. the Pacers, but if the injury is as bad as it looked, and Bryant says it is, then anything goes.
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