Kobe Bryant absolved Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni from all responsibility for his torn Achilles’ tendon injury when he spoke with the media on Tuesday.
Bryant conducted a news conference after the Lakers held their exit meetings following their disappointing season. Bryant took the opportunity to absolve D’Antoni of responsibility for the injury, and he also vouched for teammate Pau Gasol, who may be let go by the team.
Many people have felt that the extraordinary amount of minutes Kobe played in late March and April contributed to his body falling apart and that D’Antoni could (and should) have curbed that.
“Mike’s really going to tell me when to go in and out of the game?” Kobe said bluntly.
Bryant acknowledged that the extra minutes — he played 41 or more minutes in seven straight games, including a full 48 twice — may have played a role in the injury, but he said D’Antoni wasn’t going to stop him from playing.
Bryant said he took his lead from Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, who both would check themselves into games. He also said he behaved the same way — regulating his own minutes — under Phil Jackson.
As far as Gasol goes, Kobe said in no uncertain terms that he wants the Spaniard back.
“I want Pau here. It’s not a question or discussion. He gives us the best chance to win titles,” Bryant said, via Mark Medina.
In the end, most people would probably agree that Bryant’s body broke down because of age and all the minutes he has played throughout his lengthy career (think practice, NBA, summer, international competition, etc.). His extra minutes probably exacerbated the condition. But do you think Kobe would have had it any other way? If the Lakers were in danger of missing the playoffs — as they were — there was no way Kobe was going to let them go down without his best effort.