May 27, 2011, 1:32 PM EDT
Kobe Bryant may only be 32 but he has put a lot of miles on his body.
He has played more minutes than Magic Johnson, more than Larry Bird, and he’s right there with Michael Jordan (which includes the Wizards years we all try to forget). That has taken its toll on knees that have seen multiple surgeries and even have had to be drained during playoff runs.
Last season for the Lakers it was an issue — Kobe rarely practiced with the team. That mean’s he was not there to push them, to demand the attention to detail that wins championships. Under the pressure of the playoffs you saw the results.
Longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, in a detailed interview with our man Mike Trudell at Lakers.com, that Kobe’s knees are not in great shape but they have some miles left on them.
“Structurally there are some issues that cannot be reversed, but can be dealt with. There are a couple of cards we have up our sleeve that we plan on playing, and he and I have been in daily communication about that.”
“We’d like to see him practice more, but we don’t want the time that he spends on the court being spent on frivolous things,” he said. “You gotta get him out there when he needs to be out there, and get him off the floor when he doesn’t. It’s more about quality time than quantity time.”
So, pretty much like every veteran. It’s something Mike Brown and staff need to be aware of next season.
A longer summer off should help Kobe, too.