Shoulder surgery possible for Bryant

Posted: Friday, June 06, 2003

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Kobe Bryant has a tear in the tissue around his right shoulder socket that might require surgery.

The labrum tear was discovered during an MRI exam Wednesday at Kerlan Jobe Medical Center, the Los Angeles Lakers said Thursday. Bryant said on ESPN's ''SportsCenter'' that he will move as quickly as he can to heal the injury.

''I'm pretty sure that I will undergo surgery,'' he said. ''If I don't have surgery, it could get worse. It seems surgery is inevitable.''

The team said Bryant was hurt April 22 during a first-round playoff game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. That means he played the next 10 games with the injury.

''He will be seeking a second opinion before making a decision on whether or not to proceed with surgery to repair the tear,'' the Lakers said in a statement.

Bryant said he was injured when he went to the rim for a dunk and jammed his shoulder.

''It affected me a lot,'' he said. ''The playoffs, you just have to play through it.''

Bryant said he was uncertain as to whether he'll be able to play for Team USA in the Olympic qualifying tournament, to be held in August in Puerto Rico.

''I believe so,'' he said when asked if those plans were on hold. ''I was really looking forward to competing with the fellas.

''Right now, what they're talking is I'm going to miss a big bulk of the summer. I love training so much. This is a really fun time for me, preparation for next season. I just want to make sure I get back on my feet as quickly as possible.''

The Lakers were eliminated Western Conference semifinals by San Antonio, ending Los Angeles' run of three straight NBA championships.

The 24-year-old Bryant finished the regular season as the NBA's second-leading scorer, averaging a career-best 30 points a game. He scored 40 or more points in nine straight games in February and also had career-high averages of 6.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists while playing in each of the Lakers' 82 games.

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