To all the worrywarts, holding their collective breaths and wondering if Kobe Bryant will recover in time for their date with Houston in Game 1 of the semifinals, best-of-seven series. Well, ignore all the hearsay, if a fan or believer of purple and gold, now is when fanatics might get ready for what could turn into a shooting fest for the reigning MVP. So hopefully, you’re not as worried as you were a few moments ago. If there’s one superstar enduring pain better than anyone else, it’s Bryant. It would take lost limbs to restrain him from the court, and no this minor illness never beckons a wheelchair, like arch foe Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics requested in the NBA finals a year ago.

This illness is minor, compared to more serve injuries Bryant has been bothered with in the past. Hardly, has it ever seemed he missed a game because of injuries, and very seldom declines to dominate when unhealthy. Just about in each playoff series Kobe felt pain, whether if that was shoulder injuries, back spasms, dislocated finger or a spoiled bacon cheeseburger, including a cheesecake that resulted in a malaise stomach virus. Since then, let’s assume that he stopped ordering room service. Meanwhile, the folks of purple and gold are uneasy to learn that Bryant missed practice Sunday afternoon, calling out sick with a sore throat and is listed day-to-day. Ah! It's not that much of a concern, when it happens to a star-studded guard who refuses to let illnesses or injuries interrupt his enthusiastic drive and determination of winning a championship.

Nothing forestalls Bryant, which indeed, it would be a surprise if he's not anywhere on the court for another challenging semifinals against Houston. Not even a shoulder injury thwarts Bryant from predicating shot-making excellence, which explicates fortitude and heroism to avoid missing a game that he refers to as a must-needed win. As the Lakers team leader, Bryant enforces the energy with the force to execute, fortifying and leading the fundamentally sound team. Clearly, without him, the Lakers find it difficult, though they have the tangible pieces to call themselves a championship team. They finally have the mental and physical toughness inside, established by the lanky seven-footer Pau Gasol, who emended toughness. They have a smarter and more aggressive Lamar Odom, dominating the boards and using the left hand effectively to finish below the glass. They have the healthy Trevor Ariza, who solidifies a defensive-type game, where he hustles down loose balls and strip it from opponents to set up a gushing play.

Andrew Bynum is the only player the Lakers haven’t gotten results from. As futility hangs a burden on his shoulders, the Lakers still have been productive surrounding Bryant’s heroics. As of now, Bynum will enter with a chip on shoulder, aiming to avoid another series of blunders such as foul troubles which has limited playing time. In the last series against Utah, Bynum wasn’t a factor nor was he a pest as forward Carlos Boozer dominated underneath, which preserved countless chances for the Jazz, but failed to capitalize partly because of Bryant, who applies normalcy on the game, responded to them in attempting a comeback. Whenever the Lakers need a bailout, normally they count on Bryant in whom he persists with a critical fallaway or an incredible shot that seems highly impossible. By now it’s accustomed, as anything is possible when there’s Mr. Amazing, a unique figure who could easily play on one leg, one shoulder, a bad back and a troubling sore throat.

Gary Vitti, the Lakers longtime trainer have seen injuries, but never seen a man this amazing who withstands injuries without surrendering unless the season is officially done. And right now its playoff time, a moment when Kobe creates sensational plays and launch prayers to finish off a breathtaking buzzard-beating shot, like the memorable one three year’s ago when he nailed a two-point prayer as time expired to escape the rubbish of defeat in front of Lakers’ faithful before later losing the series to Phoenix. For much of his lifetime, Bryant played through serve pain, shaking off a dislocated right finger earlier in the regular-season.

Last season, close to this time, he scored amazingly 34 points, eight rebounds and six assists to close out the best-of-seven semifinals series against Utah. Most of those points came in the fourth quarter, a time when Kobe usually performs his 12 minute takeover to lead the Lakers over obstacles. He’s not only the game’s greatest finisher, but the game’s greatest injured player to still dominate as if nothing ever aches and as if nothing ever pains, and to think that he’s not as effective, well, it’s normally when Bryant dominants. It’s when he silences the people who doubted him, amazingly dropping the jaws of millions. And even though back troubles affected him in the series remotely a year ago, still he closed it out astoundingly.

Sure enough, you will see Kobe suit up for an encounter against Houston’s Ron Artest, a pesky forward that stares directly in opponents faces. Next opponent Kobe, and he will stare at him harder than anyone else in this league, including the in-your-face defensive pressure, trying everything he could to frustrate him or even ignite endless trash talk like in the regular-season. If there’s anything intriguing in this series, it’s Kobe vs. Artest, a boxing match bigger than Manny Pacquiao’s second-round knockout of Ricky Hatton. The bigger mouth in the NBA is Artest, after a shove and non-stop trash talking to Kobe late in the regular-season. Any nonsense is good enough to fire up the leagues most motivated and miraculous guard healthy or unhealthy.

So if Kobe could play through back spasms, torn ligaments, banged fingers and bad ankles, well, then he could play through a minor sore throat. According to some reports, Kobe has the flu and even if he does, he’s Mr. Amazing. Yes, he could play with the flu. Ask Michael Jordon, the last NBA star to dribble up and down the floor with the unpleasant virus. Sure, Kobe is fine. After all he’s Kobe, the amazing one.


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