The words “Kobe” and “fracture” in the same sentence should scare any Lakers fan.
Take some deep breaths. Don’t freak out. It’s not that bad. This is a minor fracture (yes, there is such a thing). Kobe has played through this before and will play through it again. In fact, he played with the injury Saturday against the Jazz, scoring 16 points in 37 minutes.
Kobe suffered an avulsion fracture on the first knuckle of his index finger on his right (shooting) hand in a game against the Timberwolves on Friday. It happened early in the game, when a pass to him was deflected and hit his hand hard at an unexpected angle. An avulsion fracture is when a force pulls a tendon off the bone and takes a little bit of the bone with it. Kobe winced at the time and quickly came out of the game.
This is the same injury he had on his pinky finger previously (although there was more ligament damage that time), but Kobe himself admitted this is going to take more getting used to because it’s at the location where the ball releases on his shot.
But, he’s Kobe — he’s going to play through it. His pain tolerance is insane.
This is not a situation where surgery would help, nor is it required. Avulsion fractures are usually treated like a soft tissue injury. Kobe got a foam splint on his finger at halftime, came out in the third quarter and early on took a three from the top of the key that he missed, but when he ran back down the court he looked over at the bench and gave the thumbs up sign. He hit a three a couple trips later down the court. He finished with 20 points on 8 of 18 shooting, and the Lakers won, 104-92.
“I’m concerned,” Kobe admitted. “But you just try to play through it and figure things out. Tomorrow will probably be the worst of it, then you just go from there.”
While Kobe has had this injury before, the situation is different — this time he has a much better team around him. Pau Gasol can carry the offense for a while, while Andrew Bynum is a threat to score 20 or more on any given night. Add in Ron Artest and Lamar Odom and the load on Kobe — and his finger — is way down.
Kobe also has a much more developed low-post game, a place where he uses his left hand a lot. And he can use it. In the second quarter, Kobe tried to go back in and play before the splint was put on it, but became almost exclusively left handed. He made some plays, including a perfect lob to Shannon Brown for his highlight dunk of the night.
“The debate — who has a better left hand between me and Pau — is over,” Kobe joked. “There’s no contest. No contest.”