During the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers loss to the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant, who was playing just his second game since rupturing his Achilles in April, had his left ankle wrapped up. At the time, Bryant kept his shoes on, but it was unclear whether he would re-enter the game. After giving Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti the nod, the wrap was removed and Bryant resumed play.
After the game, Bryant clarified that he still has minor ankle issues unrelated to his Achilles, and the wrap was actually a heating pad to keep the ankle and surrounding joints warm. Bryant explained that ankle tightness doesn’t seem to be an issue in practice when he’s constantly moving, but in game situations, rest causes the ankle to “lock up.” In such cases, a heating pad, like the one he used last night, is beneficial for him during games. Though Kobe said he doesn’t expect the mid-game heating pad to continue throughout the season, it is something he’ll likely be using when necessary during the upcoming games.
“I don’t think that it’s something that will last for awhile…This is not an issue that pertains to the Achilles. If you go back and look at starts of the season, in particular, I’ve always had kind of foot tightness. I’ve been playing for awhile so I just kinda got to get used to it.”
Bryant also said his ankle simply needs to get used to running again. Kobe will have plenty of games for his ankle to get used to running, as the Lakers play four games in five days in their difficult upcoming road-trip. Has Bryant considered sitting out in back-to-backs? Hardly. “It’s my job,” Kobe said late Tuesday night.
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