Mike D’Antoni Says He Has to Play Kobe Bryant Heavy Minutes

by April 08, 2013

With the Los Angeles Lakers desperately trying to sneak into the Playoffs, Kobe Bryant’s playing time and fatigue have become increasingly troubling issues. According to Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni, he has no other option but to wear out his star player. Per the LA Times: “He’s 34 years old, ignoring bone spurs in his left foot and recently coming off a severe ankle sprain, but he keeps throwing himself toward the maximum limit per NBA game. He didn’t rest Sunday until 39.8 seconds remained in the Lakers’ 109-95 loss to the Clippers. This all started March 30, when he sat out only 23 seconds against Sacramento. He followed it up with 56 seconds of rest against Dallas. Then a veritable vacation with 43 minutes of playing time against Memphis before pushing back up Sunday toward almost the full 48. Why is he doing this? ‘Playoffs, probably,’ Bryant said. […] ‘That’s the risk that we’re running with Kobe,’ Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said. ‘His legs, we’re playing a little bit with fire and we wouldn’t like to. But we’re putting ourselves in a position where we have to. Obviously, if that doesn’t work, then I should have done something else. Right now, I don’t know. I sit him down and we lose; that’s not going to work either. Kobe’s our best bet going forward to win games, and he says he’s going to retire after a year, so we’ll get our money’s worth for two years.’ Bryant hasn’t officially said he’s done after next season, his last year under contract with the Lakers. But he is demanding as many minutes as possible. D’Antoni isn’t stopping him. ‘I keep asking him, and he wants to do it,’ D’Antoni said. ‘If he says he feels great and his legs aren’t bothering him, then I’ve got to take his word for it. If he says, ‘I’m tired, but I want to play through,’ then that’s different.'”