Kobe Bryant, the Lakers' prize rookie, broke his left wrist when he fell during a pickup game Monday at Venice Beach and is expected to be sidelined at least six weeks. The injury probably will keep him out of the first two weeks of training camp and the exhibition schedule.
The Lakers learned of the accident Tuesday, when Bryant visited a hand specialist at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic. Doctors there determined that he would not need surgery now but said the promising guard would be examined again in about two weeks. In the meantime, Bryant will wear a splint.
Depending on his recuperation, this could be either a minor delay for Bryant in what management feels is a career destined for stardom, or a real setback for him and the Lakers. He is an 18-year-old making the jump from high school to the pros and the first training camp figures to be critical. The Lakers are counting on Bryant to make a significant contribution from the start in a backcourt that otherwise includes only Rumeal Robinson and rookie Derek Fisher off the bench.
"The good news is that, knock on wood, this is not an injury to a lower limb--a knee or an ankle--which would have meant he couldn't even have participated in training camp," General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. "We're hopeful that four or five weeks from now, the wrist will be healed enough and he'll be able to participate in parts of some workouts, so at least to gain timing and strength in his legs and gain an understanding and familiarity of our plays.
"The other side is that he's an 18-year-old player and the first training camp is very important. This will set him back. This will certainly ensure that we will bring him along slowly, that's for sure. If you're looking for a silver lining, it's that we won't rush him along."
Training camp begins Oct. 4 in Honolulu and continues there for nine days, capped by games Oct. 10 and 12 against the Denver Nuggets.
After that, the Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 16 at Fresno before their only home games of the exhibition schedule, Oct. 18 and 19 in what will also be the Los Angeles debut of Shaquille O'Neal. Their only other Southern California appearance is Oct. 22 against the Houston Rockets at San Diego. The regular season opens Nov. 1 against the Phoenix Suns.
Bryant, the No. 13 pick by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded for Vlade Divac, was impressive in averaging 25 points and 5.3 rebounds in four summer league games.
* NOT ALWAYS
With Shaquille O'Neal and a new generation at the Forum, Coke pulls out. D1