INDIANAPOLIS -- Kobe Bryant has put in more than his usual maintenance work behind the scenes to continue to look and move like a Ferrari this season.
While everyone appreciates what he has done on the track to pull the Lakers along in this difficult season, Bryant's time in the body shop has been so extensive as to keep fueling his thoughts of retiring after next season.
Now he is dealing with his most serious injury of the season, and he's attacking it with the same fervor to overcome his sprained left ankle as soon as possible.
The Lakers play Friday night in Indiana, and it'll be a challenge for Bryant to knock out the swelling in his ankle in time. He's trying, though.
Bryant posted to his Twitter account how many movies he was watching to stay awake late Wednesday night to maximize his ankle treatment: "Compression. Ice. Django. Zero Dark Thirty. This is Forty and 1 hour of sleep. #countonwill #countonhaters. On to the next."
The Bryant prides himself on a lunchpail mentality that in conjunction with his will to win has been as much his secret to success as his physical gifts. And Indiana is actually the place where he had his first memorable NBA Finals spotlight in 2000: He sprained the same ankle when landing on Jalen Rose's foot after a jump shot in Game 2, sat out Game 3 and came back with a Game 4 so moving that Shaquille O'Neal would pop footage of it into his VCR (yes, that's how long Bryant has been playing) that offseason to relive it.
O'Neal fouled out late in the game, but Bryant carried the Lakers to a 120-118 overtime victory in Indiana, and they went on to win the first of three consecutive NBA titles.
Bryant referenced that past again Thursday with a tweet about how Dahntay Jones' foot preventing Bryant from landing safely after his jumper at the end of the Lakers' loss Wednesday night in Atlanta was the only time other than Rose's incident that Bryant has hurt an ankle this way: "17yrs. Countless fades. This has happened TWICE. Jalen and Now Ankle still very swollen. Treatment all day #focus"
For his part, Jones went on SiriusXM radio to defend his honor with widespread criticism directed his way for a dangerous play. The NBA before last season made it a point of emphasis that fouls should be called if defenders' feet don't allow shooters to land safely, but no foul was called on the play Wednesday night.
"That's very disheartening and that's not the way I play the game right now," Jones said of Bryant's displeasure with the play. "Obviously, we had two incidents that happened in the Western Conference finals (in 2009), and those two were totally separate from what's happening now. We played 48 minutes of basketball (Wednesday) and we didn't have any instances there at that point in time. It's just the last shot just happened to come down with an unfortunate incident. I didn't try to do anything to hurt him. I have too much respect for him to try to hurt him."
Jones pushed and tripped Bryant in the 2009 Western Conference finals to draw two flagrant fouls.
The Lakers play Sacramento on Sunday and then at Phoenix on Monday before three days off.
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