NBA’s new concussion guidelines might delay Kobe Bryant’s return … and that’s a good thing

The Lakers listed superstar guard Kobe Bryant as day-to-day after announcing Tuesday afternoon he suffered a concussion in addition to a broken nose after Dwyane Wade clobbered him during the All-Star Game on Sunday in Orlando, Fla.

However, it appears unlikely Bryant will be cleared to play Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves because the NBA’s new concussion protocol is designed to ensure players are symptom-free before they return to the court.

Bryant skipped Tuesday’s practice to visit Dr. John Rehm, an ear, nose and throat specialist who confirmed the original diagnosis of a broken nose. Rehm also recommended Bryant undergo an MRI exam and visit a neurologist to address other unspecified symptoms. Bryant then visited Dr. Vern Williams, who diagnosed a concussion. Williams is scheduled to examine Bryant again Wednesday.

Under the NBA’s strict new guidelines for concussions, Bryant must complete a series of steps to confirm he’s fit to play. Once he is free of symptoms, he must advance through increasingly more difficult stages of physical exertion.

Bryant must ride a stationary bike, jog, perform agility exercises and then engage in non-contact drills with his teammates while ensuring the symptoms do not return after each increase in activity. The NBA’s concussion specialist must then clear him.

Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan, was hired in December to serve as director of the NBA’s concussion program. Kutcher’s role is to ensure players do not return to the court too quickly.

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Kobe Bryant will see a neurologist next, status unclear for Wednesday’s game

Kobe Bryant didn’t attend Tuesday’s practice and his status for Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves is “unknown at this time,” according to a team spokesman. Bryant saw Dr. John Rehm, an ear, nose and throat specialist who confirmed the original diagnosis of a broken nose. Bryant, who has other symptoms, will undergo an MRI exam and see a neurologist. He was injured when Dwyane Wade smacked him in the face during Sunday’s All-Star Game in Orlando.

Wade issued an apology after the Miami Heat’s practice.

Bryant’s teammates questioned Wade’s decision to take a hard foul.

“At an All-Star Game, I don’t understand what that was all about. It was crazy,” Lakers center Andrew Bynum said of the play.

Added power forward Pau Gasol: “I think it was out of place, out of line. I don’t think (Wade) intended to break his nose. He just kind of fouled him hard there and got his nose. But again, I don’t think it was the place for a foul like that.”

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant to see specialist Tuesday

A sneak-peek at tomorrow’s story today …

Kobe Bryant’s visit to see Dr. John Rehm, an ear, nose and throat specialist, to learn more about the broken nose he suffered during Sunday’s All-Star Game in Orlando, Fla., was postponed until Tuesday, the Lakers said Monday.

The Lakers are scheduled to hold their first practice after the All-Star break Tuesday afternoon at 2 (PST). Then they play host Wednesday to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s uncertain whether Bryant will be fit to practice or to play.

Or whether he will be forced to wear a protective mask.

Bryant was hurt when Dwyane Wade clobbered him on a drive to the basket with 8:48 left in the third quarter, drawing blood. After getting treatment, he made two free throws to tie Michael Jordan for the most points in All-Star history with 262.

The Lakers play host to Wade and the Miami Heat on Sunday.

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Kobe Bryant suffers broken nose, concussion in All-Star Game

The Lakers announced today on their website that Kobe Bryant suffered a broken nose during the All-Star Game and will be checked out further this afternoon by an ear, nose and throat specialist. Bryant was injured when Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat fouled him hard on a drive to the basket in the third quarter, drawing blood.

Bryant remained in the game and scored 27 points in the West’s 152-149 victory over the East in Orlando, but he skipped a postgame media session to be examined by a doctor. A CT scan revealed the broken nose.

In addition, Bryant suffered a mild concussion, according to a report on Yahoo Sports.

“That’s the type of guy he is,” West coach Scott Brooks of Oklahoma City said of Bryant. “He’s not going to let anybody know that he was in pain or had any issues. The guy is as competitive as I’ve seen. He was going to give everything and not let us know. That’s what makes him the special player that he is.”

The Lakers resume practice Tuesday and play their first game after the All-Star break Wednesday when they play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They meet Wade and the Heat in a nationally televised game from Staples Center on Sunday afternoon.

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Kobe Bryant on wisdom of meeting with Jim Buss: ‘Perhaps’

Given all that’s happened, that he’s disappointed the Lakers traded Lamar Odom and that he’s upset management has refused to clarify Pau Gasol’s future with the team, Kobe Bryant showed remarkable restraint this afternoon.

When a reporter asked him after the Lakers’ morning shootaround if it might be about time to meet with team executive Jim Buss to talk about the franchise’s direction, the face of the franchise said simply, “Um, perhaps.”

Bryant declined to comment further, having already created a league-wide stir when he spoke out Sunday about the front office’s unwillingness to say whether it intended to keep or trade Gasol. Bryant said he preferred the Lakers keep Gasol.

“Nobody else is going to say it, man,” Bryant said, smiling when asked why he chose to speak out about the need to give Gasol some peace of mind before the March 15 trade deadline. “I’m the only one with (guts) big enough to say it, so I said it.”

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Is this what set Kobe Bryant off about Pau Gasol’s future?

It wasn’t certain whether this was the story that set Kobe Bryant off Sunday on a postgame rant about the need for the Lakers’ management to clarify Pau Gasol’s future with the team or whether it was an accumulation of rumors that drove him to talk.

But here is what SheridanHoops.com reported Sunday:

Derrick Rose has let it be known to Bulls management that we wants to play with Pau Gasol if Chicago is able to swing a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers for the veteran power forward from Spain, a source close to Rose told SheridanHoops.com on Sunday.

The Spanish news outlet Marca was the first to report Sunday that Rose has given his blessing for the Bulls to go after Gasol with a package that would be centered around Carlos Boozer and another player.

“He hasn’t said so publicly, but he has made that known privately,” said the source, who spoke to SheridanHoops.com on condition of anonymity.

For what it’s worth, Chris Sheridan is a veteran reporter who worked for many years for The Associated Press and ESPN.com before starting his own website. Plus, our fathers worked together back in the day in Milwaukee. So I trust him. You should too.

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Kobe Bryant calls for clarity on Pau Gasol’s future with Lakers

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

After a long, frustrating night in the desert and another disjointed loss away from home, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant called on team management to provide clarity on teammate Pau Gasol’s status in purple and gold.

“It’s tough to get up for these games sometimes,” Bryant said as he began to answer a question about the Lakers’ uneven play during a 102-90 loss Sunday night to the Phoenix Suns in front of a crowd of 18,023 at US Airways Center.

“Basketball is such an emotional game you’ve got to have all of yourself in the game and invested in the game. We didn’t have that (Sunday against the Suns).”

Without skipping a beat, Bryant then launched into what was really on his mind.

“It’s hard for Pau, with all this trade talk, to invest him completely, or immerse himself completely into games when he hears all this trade talk every other day, you know what I’m saying?” Bryant said, referring to ongoing rumors.

“I wish management would either come out and trade him or not trade him. I talked to him a little bit about it. It’s tough for him to give his all if he doesn’t know if he’s going to be here tomorrow, you know?

“I would rather they not trade him. If they’re going to do something, I wish they’d do it. If they’re not going to do it, come out and say, ‘We’re not going to do it.’ (Then) he can be comfortable. He can go out and play and invest all of himself in the game.”

The Lakers tried to trade Gasol and Lamar Odom to acquire point guard Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets before the lockout-delayed training camp began in December. The NBA, acting as the de facto owner of the Hornets, blocked the deal.

Gasol remained with the Lakers, who then traded Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for a first-round draft pick and an $8.9 million trade exception. Paul ended up going to the Clippers in a revised trade that bolstered the Lakers’ Staples Center co-tenants.

With the NBA trade deadline approaching March 15, there have been a number of rumors suggest the Lakers are willing to trade Gasol in order to revamp their roster in the wake of last spring’s second-round playoff exit.

Bryant said such a dramatic move wasn’t necessary.

“I’m sure we’ll make some tweaks here and there,” he said after scoring 32 points in the Lakers’ first loss in their last four games. “But the foundation is here, with myself, Pau and the emergence of Andrew (Bynum).

“But you can’t have one of our pillars not knowing if he’s going to be here or not. Hurry up and do something. We should have some type of closure. At least he would get some closure. I would rather they not trade him. If you’re going to do it, do it already.

“If they’re not going to do it, come out and say, ‘We’re not doing it.’”

Gasol said he hasn’t spoken to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak since the failed attempt to trade him back in December. He wondered whether it was the right thing for him to do, to make the first move and ask Kupchak to clarify his status with the team.

“Obviously, it would be nice to know one way or the other for my own sake,” Gasol said after some gentle prodding from several Lakers beat reporters. “But I don’t know if I’m in a position to really demand that at all.”

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More minutes for Steve Blake, fewer for Derek Fisher

Lakers coach Mike Brown said he would probably give backup point guard Steve Blake more minutes than starter Derek Fisher. Blake was sidelined for 13 games because of a rib/sternum injury, but now that he’s back and reasonably healthy, he’s the one to play bigger minutes, according to Brown.

“Before Steve Blake got hurt, Steve Blake was closing games for us so Fish wasn’t playing as much,” Brown said before tonight’s game against the Suns in Phoenix. “Steve Blake gets hurt, I’ve got two rookies as my backups, so Fish’s minutes go up. Steve Blake gets healthy, so Fish’s minutes are probably going to go back down. I’ve talked to Fish and Steve about it. Right now, I like the way both of them are playing, but I think Steve is giving us a little bit more.”

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Suns coach Alvin Gentry: Teams should fear the Lakers

Sneak-peek at tomorrow’s story tonight …

Before the Lakers improved to 13-2 at home and 18-12 overall and the Suns lost their fourth in a row and fell to 12-19, Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said everyone in the Western Conference is fearful of meeting the Lakers in the playoffs.

“I agree, I agree,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said when told of Gentry’s comment. “We’re going to move up. This 18-12 thing … we’re going to move up. We’re going to stabilize our rotation. We’re going to continue to make shots. We’re going to be a force.

“I appreciate the comments, but we’re going to move up.”

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