Blog Entry

Kobe Bryant has 'cartilage problem' in knee

Posted on: May 30, 2011 4:19 pm
The trainer for the Los Angeles Lakers describes the condition of Kobe Bryant's knee. Posted by Ben Golliver. kobe-bryant

Back in January, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant sent some shockwaves through the basketball universe when he described his surgically repaired right knee as "almost bone on bone." Those words can be a death sentence for an NBA player's athleticism and future prospects.

In a wide-ranging interview on, Gary Vitti, longtime trainer for the franchise, provides a bit more depth in his description of the condition of Bryant's knee. 
What happens with older players -- and this isn’t Kobe’s situation – is that tendinitis turns into tendinosis, and the tendon doesn’t have the same properties that it used to have. As a result it slows them down, and once you become a step slow in this league, it’s very, very difficult to compete.

That’s not Kobe’s problem, however. His is an articulating cartilage problem. The way I describe that to people is that if you look at the end of chicken bone where it’s nice and white, well, that’s not bone, it’s cartilage. Sort of like a Teflon surface that when two bones come together, that cartilage is there so that bones don’t rub on each other. Now, the fact that it’s nice and white tells you it doesn’t have a good blood flow to it, and that means it cannot heal or regenerate. So, over time, as that cartilage wears away, you end up with osteoarthritis.

Kobe doesn’t have an arthritic knee, but he has a knee that has some joint degeneration to it. His issues and his age are such that it eliminates some procedures, like microfracture and that type of things. But he is a candidate for certain other things, and we know all the procedures all around the world that are available to him, and the appropriate decisions will be made, he’ll have the best care.
To boil that down: Bryant has little cartilage, the state of the cartilage is problematic, he has joint degeneration but not arthritis and "procedures" have been explored.

A few takeaway points. First of all, kudos to the Lakers for providing as much transparency as possible on the medical condition of their star player. No one is forcing them to do this and it's always better to stress about what you do know rather than stressing about what you're guessing or things that you don't know. For those worried about Bryant's future, you now know exactly where he stands. That's saying a lot.

Second: It's clear that the condition of Bryant's knee is not going to reverse course. The miles have clearly added up, the situation requires constant management and future eventualities have been explored and weighed. None of that is particularly shocking, but it's still a tad depressing, especially for his fans. On the flipside, nothing revealed in the interview suggests that Bryant can't be a major, major contributor to a title contender over the next few years. His knee is problematic, but it's not critical.
Category: NBA

Since: May 18, 2009
Posted on: June 1, 2011 9:45 am

Kobe Bryant has 'cartilage problem' in knee

well robin got the City and more rings than batman

Since: May 13, 2010
Posted on: June 1, 2011 4:39 am

Kobe Bryant has 'cartilage problem' in knee

Great comments on Kobe guy's, he has been the best for about 10 years. Of course you got the nay sayers who speak bullish about Kobe, but even they know they are not being honest. The guy has played through so much, done so much for the NBA and all Laker fans. He can't play at this level forever, we all know that. It's time for Bynum to step up and carry the team a little more. But, knowing Kobe and how ghe conducts himself on the floor, he will still lead the team, he will still be the man. I don't think Kobe is veer going to be ready to give up the head man at the table position in LA. I'm cool with that, I hope he realises when it's time to take a back seat but if he doesn't, I owe it to him to shut up and watch him play until the end of his career. He is always injured and always plays through it, always. No matter what the injury is he is playing, that I respect about him. No other superstar in the NBA goes through the type of injuries this man does. He is a WARRIOR!

Since: Jul 1, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:30 pm

Kobe Bryant has 'cartilage problem' in knee

LeBron knows!

It's all about the rings, Jordan's 6 and Kobe's 5.

Who was Batman Jordan's Robin? Pippen and a slew of others!

Who was Batman Kobe's Robin? Shaq and a slew of others!

Wait a minute, scratch that last statement!!!

Who was Batman Kobe's Shaq's Robin? Shaq Kobe!!!

Since: Jul 11, 2008
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:26 pm

Kobe Bryant has 'cartilage problem' in knee

Why does the trainer start talking about two conditions that Kobe "doesn't have?"  Why would he even start explaining these issues if they dont apply?

Since: Nov 5, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:19 pm

Kobe Bryant has 'cartilage problem' in knee

... so if the Lakers succeed it makes him look like a warrior, he loves that.
Whether the Lakers win or not, Kobe is a warrior.

No one hates losing more.  No one works harder to improve every day.  No one pulls/pushes teammates harder.
No one cuts himself less slack when things are tough on the court.  No one fights for the win with more intensity.
Whether or not he enjoys being seen and recognized by others as a warrior, he has within himself something that
just doesn't allow him to be anything else.

As far as the quality of the man's character – I don't know enough to pass judgement, and neither do you.
I can suggest a saying of Will Rogers you could probably profit from considering very carefully:
What you don't know can cause you problems –– but nothing like what you do know, and just ain't so.

Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:55 pm

Kobe Bryant has 'cartilage problem' in knee

Kobe has been the best player in the league for ten years straight and it hasn't even been close (not even Lebron)... He has played more games and more meaningful crucial minutes than any player in the league. It is sad to see any physical decline in such an amazing player. I agree with the sentiments of the author......he will still be a major contributor for 2-3 more years. There is still noone I would rather have at the end of a close game than the mamba. Hopefully his teammates (Bynum) grow into their roles as stars and he can help guide them to another championship before it is all said and done.

Since: Nov 9, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:35 pm

Kobe Bryant has 'cartilage problem' in knee

I wouldn't exactly call this a "news flash". Basketball is a young man's game. It's been pretty remarkable how long Kobe has kept his game at such a high level. Duncan and Garnett have been slowing down the last couple years, and it's inevitable that Kobe was soon to follow.

Since: Apr 28, 2010
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:02 am
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Since: Jul 26, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 9:53 am

Kobe Bryant has 'cartilage problem' in knee

The pretentiously-named and probably pre-decided "The Finals" are about to start, and it looks like Kobe and/or the Lakers just can't STAND to not have attention focused on him/them.  The timing of this "news" stinks.  

Kobe's an incredible player, but this pre-excusing in case his team loses, and the constant need to be the focus of attention make me wish he'd grow up as a person. 

Hate Boston&LA
Since: May 4, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 8:56 am
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