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Inactivity Is Driving Bryant Crazy

February 26, 2001|TIM BROWN

Frustrated with his inability to play because of injury, Kobe Bryant pushed a hard breath from between tight lips on Sunday evening.

"It's awful," he said.

From a side door, Bryant strolled from the Laker locker room to his car, a full-length camel-hair coat and the strain of sitting out three consecutive games draped over his shoulders.

The guy can't stand it when he's away from the action and in the game. Having a purple stripe run between him and another game, it isn't even tolerable.

He no longer limps on his sprained right ankle. But trainer Gary Vitti worked for hours before Sunday's game against Orlando and couldn't get Bryant up or running. They doctored Bryant's shoes and stopped the swelling, but he remained unable to move laterally without pain, and so just before game-time he changed into his gray suit.

"I'm getting better," Bryant said.

He could play Wednesday in Denver.

"I hope so," he said.

The Lakers don't practice today, but Bryant will drive from Pacific Palisades to El Segundo for his usual treatment.

Forced to consider an upside to a sixth day without basketball--he sprained his ankle Tuesday night in Dallas--Bryant said the rest of him is feeling much better. The sore shoulder, the strained left ankle, the damaged right pinkie, the knee tendinitis, name it, they all feel better.

"I am rested," Bryant offered.


Two of the remarkable games of the season: on Feb. 4 the Lakers beat Sacramento, 100-94, without Shaquille O'Neal, and on Feb. 21 they beat San Antonio, 101-99, without Bryant.

If the Lakers can be that game down one of those players, Rick Fox said, then imagine how simple it could be to have them playing together--really together--again.

"I think about it, I do think about it," Fox said. "It happened last year. We definitely had it last year, in the second half, anyway. It's nothing that can't be done."


Juara and Olia Medvedenko arrived Saturday from Kiev, Ukraine, for a visit with son Slava. If his parents like Los Angeles, Slava said, they could move here permanently. In the meantime, they'll stay with him in his Marina del Rey condominium.

Slava intends to travel to his native Ukraine for about a month immediately after the season, then return to Los Angeles to play in a Long Beach summer league.

Juara and Olia, who had not seen their son for more than five months, attended Sunday's game.

"I'm used to it," Slava said. "It's normal for a basketball player."


Veteran referee Jess Kersey suffered a partial tear of his Achilles' tendon in the first quarter and did not return. Hugh Evans and George Toliver called the remainder of the first half a man down.

Derek Richardson, an NBA referee and a spectator, came out of the stands to take Kersey's place, in every regard, in the second half. He wore Kersey's pants and shirt, gathering the pants in the back with a safety pin.


Ed Palubinskas, O'Neal's shooting coach, is back in town. While he was away, Palubinskas won a national free throw-shooting contest in Las Vegas. . . . Ron Harper will begin a running program this week. The club doesn't expect him to play again until March 4, at the earliest. . . . Derek Fisher will begin official scrimmages with the team in about a week. That could put him back in a game by mid-to-late March.

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