Towards the end of Tuesday's practice session, Kobe Bryant streaked through the lane before taking flight and flushing home a hammer dunk on Antawn Jamison, who'd taken a charge on Kobe earlier in the scrimmage.
Though Bryant played through the rest of the scrimmage and added ball-handling and shooting drills for an extra 30 minutes after practice ended, he strained his right shoulder doing the dunk and ended up being held out of Wednesday's preseason contest in Ontario, Calif.
During the second quarter of the eventual loss to Portland, Bryant told me "I'm fine" on the Time Warner Cable SportsNet broadcast.
Bryant said that if it were a regular season game, he'd be playing, but the coaching staff wanted to take an extra precaution. As a continued sign that he's "fine," Bryant participated in a light, no-contact practice session with his teammates on Thursday.
Here's a transcription of the full Time Warner Cable SportsNet interview with Bryant:
MT: I think Mike Brown had to basically force you not to play because it’s the preseason, but if it was the regular season, you would have won that fight?
Bryant: For sure, for sure. It wouldn’t have been much of an argument.
MT: So you think you hurt it – correct me if I’m wrong – dunking on Antawn Jamison in practice?
Bryant: Correct, yeah.
MT: You came down on the play, hung on the rim a little bit and then just felt a little bit of a tweak?
Bryant: I just strained it a little bit on the dunk. I should be OK, though.
MT: We know you love talking about your injuries, so just tell how it is very quickly.
Bryant: I’m fine.
MT: There it is. So last year, you got a little bit of time to coach on the sideline (while injured). Here, you can watch Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. What are you looking (for)?
Bryant: Just get a better understanding of our rhythm and what we’re trying to do contextually with our offense and with our defense, and just go from there.
MT: Before that play that you dunked on Jamison, I think Dwight (Howard) had a huge swat on the other end. How’s he looking in practice?
Bryant: He’s looking incredible. That defensive play was one of those plays that maybe Bill Russell can make and that’s about it. He was literally out of bounds and flew in and stopped a dunk and it was sensational.
MT: Aside from the little shoulder tweak, I know you’ve been feeling very good in general. You said as good as you felt in 2006?
Bryant: Nah, I feel great. I worked a lot this summer, got my body healthy and I’m just ready to go.
MT: Finally, the fans love you here. When you came in, (it was the) loudest ovation (of the night). What does it mean coming to these smaller markets in L.A.?
Bryant: Well, it’s special because they don’t really get a chance to watch us play in person. I’m very disappointed that I can’t come out and perform for them in person today, but it means a lot to be here today.
MT: Alright, Kobe. We know you’re feeling better, but make sure you’re on the court soon for us.
Bryant: I will. Thank you.