With the condition his body has been in over the last few years, the fact that Bryant can walk straight, let alone play at a superhuman level, is simply incredible. The NY Post has the latest: “Kobe appeared to know exactly what was ailing his two-time defending team. Minutes after being manhandled by the Heat, he pronounced he was going to ‘kick [butt] at practice … and beat it into their heads. It was time to get the team focused.’ Which brings us to the crux of my inquiry. How did Kobe propose to pull that off, a Lakers’ legionnaire wondered, ‘when he hasn’t practiced the whole season (something no member of LA’s press has called him out on)?” Is that true, I asked Kobe? ‘Yeah.’ Why? ‘Because I have very little cartilage under my right knee cap, it’s almost bone on bone.’ Bryant has undergone three operations on that same knee, one this past offseason, after having it drained several times during last year’s playoffs. ”Until I got it drained the first time during the opening round against the Thunder I could not bend that knee at all,’ he revealed. ‘It was swollen as hell and it hurt like hell. Luckily things got a lot better once I had the procedure.’ Kobe is 32. This is his 15th season. Including the regular season, the after-party and All-Star Games, he has played a total of 46,660 minutes … ‘You know how competitive and combative I am on the court,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing I like better than to practice. In fact, I like practice more than the games, because I get to go at my teammates hard. That’s when you find out what they’re made of, how much you can push some to get the most out of ’em, and how you have to back off others so you don’t lose ’em. So, in order to protect my knee and avoid a situation like last year, we decided before the season to sacrifice the team’s intensity by minimizing wear and tear as much as possible.’”