News Column

Kobe Bryant on Dwyane Wade's Foul: 'He Didn't Mean To Do It'

March 1, 2012

Ira Winderman

Kobe Bryant

A potential blood feud between Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade will apparently end with the blood.

His nose bloodied and broken by a hard foul from Wade during the third quarter of Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, Kobe Bryant said late Wednesday night that he did not perceive any ill intent from the blow for the Miami Heat guard, which also left Bryant with concussion symptoms.

Speaking following the Los Angeles Lakers' 104-85 Wednesday victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center, Bryant said Wade simply is not the type who would play with an intent to injure.

"It was very simple. He didn't mean to do it. He's not that kind of person. He's a nicer guy than I am," Bryant said after playing with a mask and scoring 31 points against the Timberwolves, a game played shortly after Bryant was cleared by the league's new protocol to return from concussion symptoms. Bryant also sustained soft-tissue damage in his neck from Wade's foul.

Wade apologized Monday to Bryant, telling media the following day, "I sent my apologies. But, you know, not intentional. If it's something I did intentionally, it's a different story. So it's unfortunate."

Bryant acknowledged discomfort with the clear-plastic mask.

"It just felt like it started sweating immediately inside," said Bryant, who nonetheless shot 11 of 23. "It felt like I had a sauna on my face.

"I was drinking my own sweat."

Bryant continued on after the foul during the All-Star Game, helping harass Heat forward LeBron James into a game-defining turnover that allowed Bryant's Western Conference team to emerge with the victory despite a James-driven comeback by the East.

Only after the All-Star Game was Bryant sent for an examination for a potential concession, with the NBA's new collective-bargaining agreement adopting a new, more stringent protocol for such matters.

"I'm fine. I have no headaches," Bryant said after Wednesday's victory. "Everything's just kind of in the neck."

The Heat and Lakers meet Sunday afternoon at Staples Center in a nationally televised game that concludes the three-game western swing that opens Thursday night for the Heat against the Portland Trail Blazers.

By resolving the issue in advance, Bryant not only eases the tone for Sunday's game, but also his relationship with Wade, with the two to spend more than a month together this summer as Olympic teammates.

"We've been close friends for a long time," Bryant said. "Myself, [Carmelo Anthony] and him, we've been really, really close."

Bryant's concussion symptoms of headache and nausea were eventually tied to medication taken for the broken nose and whiplash.

Bryant's neurologist, Vern Williams, held a media session before Wednesday's game at Staples Center.

"His primary symptom was headache, and that headache was associated with some nausea, with some sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound," Williams told reporters. "Those are very frequent and commonly seen symptoms related to concussion. However, the extenuating factor in Kobe's case is that he also had a significant component of neck soreness . . . whiplash, if you will . . . and that can also result in the exact same kinds of symptoms in some people.

"My opinion was that the overwhelming majority, the significant majority of his symptoms on Tuesday were related to that."

Lakers coach Mike Brown joked before Wednesday's game that Bryant's appearance never was in doubt.

"Kobe is Kobe," he said. "I don't think he ever wants to sit out.

"So this is no different than at any time before. He's just a competitive guy. I don't care what it is. . . . If he has two broken legs, he's the type of guy that would say, 'Take this one and staple this one and let me get out there.' "

Source: (c)2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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