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Kobe Bryant And His Finger

This isn’t quite Ronnie Lott cutting off the tip of his pinkie finger, but Kobe Bryant’s right index finger may never be the same. Per Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register:

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He might never play again without wearing support for his damaged right index finger.

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The middle knuckle on that critical finger on Bryant’s shooting hand is so debilitated by arthritis after the past season of misuse and overuse that there may be no real way to fix it. Bryant will consult with specialists in July to figure out his options, but arthritis is not a problem that can just be cleaned up with arthroscopic surgery or wished away with a little rest.

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With another championship under his belt — Kobe’s fifth — I’m sure this is a sacrifice would make, given the choice, every single time. If anything, this is a testament to Bryant’s toughness and pain threshold, which have long been considered extraordinary.

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The unsung hero of this is Gary Vitti, the Lakers trainer who is the wizard of Los Angeles injured fingers this year. Vitti developed a special splint which allowed Bryant flexibility and support for his finger. Vitti then later did the same for Andre Ethier of the Dodgers after Ethier broke his pinkie in May, allowing him to return from the disabled list sooner than anticipated. Then again, Ethier is hitting .219 with one home run in 26 game since returning from the DL, so perhaps it is to soon to chalk up that decision as a success.