Kobe Bryant remains far away from the basketball court, but his teammates keep handing out assists.
As he remains immobilized four days after having surgery to treat a torn left Achilles tendon that will sideline him for at least the next six to nine months, Bryant has had frequent guests visiting him.
Bryant posted a photo on his Instagram and Facebook accounts Tuesday evening showing how Lakers forward Pau Gasol stopping by his Newport Beach residence for a few hours following practice.
“We laughed and joked and talked strategy for tomorrows big game,” said Bryant on Facebook, referring to the Lakers’ season finale tonight against the Houston Rockets.
This isn’t the first time they’ve done that. Gasol said that Bryant talked with him at halftime of the Lakers’ eventual win Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs, imploring him to be more aggressive. When Lakers center Dwight Howard and guard Jodie Meeks stopped by Bryant’s residence Monday night, the Lakers’ star offered similar suggestions.
“He just said to go play hard,” Howard said. “We know how to play basketball. He’s going to be watching us. We know how to play.”
As much as Bryant’s accomplished in his 17-year career with five NBA championships and a fourth-place standing on the league’s scoring list, this supportive network didn’t always exist. Of course, Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal had well-documented scuffles during their eight-year tenure together (1996-2004), including O’Neal’s frustrations with Bryant’s shot selection and Bryant’s gripes about O’Neal’s work ethic. But even former Lakers guard Derek Fisher once revealed in an interview that he never went to Bryant’s house despite winning all five of their NBA titles together.
Since Bryant’s injury, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, Gasol, Howard and Meeks have publicly said they’ve visited the Lakers’ star. What about Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni?
“Not a whole lot,” D’Antoni said. “”I’m just letting him rest and recuperate and he’ll back in here soon.”
In the meantime, plenty of others will. Howard, who had frustrations with Bryant this season, visited him both before surgery at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic and at his house.
“I think it was good for him,” Howard said. “Having teammates come check up on you means a lot. It shows to him that we care. It’s not all about what happened or things that have been said. We want to be there for him. It was a tough time. You want to have people stick close to you and you want to be close.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at email@example.com