Kobe: More 'locked in' than ever

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LOS ANGELES -- Lakers star Kobe Bryant says his knee injury was not caused by him returning to the lineup too quickly from an Achilles injury in the same leg.

"I don't think one had anything to do with the other," Bryant said Wednesday in his first media session since being diagnosed with the fracture last week. "We've evaluated it pretty extensively. The fact of the matter is any of us can get hurt at any moment and the key for us as an athlete is to block that fear out."

Bryant, speaking before the Lakers' 101-95 loss to the  Miami Heat, said he has no plans to shut it down for the season and is as determined as ever to play despite suffering a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee just six games into his return from the Achilles tear.

"I think I feel more locked in now than I've been my entire career because of this," Bryant said. "The spirits are fine, the focus is great. Just going to see what happens when I come back."

Bryant, 35, is nearly one week into the six-week timetable that was set when he underwent an MRI on his left knee following the Lakers' 96-92 road win over the Memphis Grizzlies. He said he was "not aware" of any reason he would be sidelined any longer than that.

"My philosophy on that kind of stuff is: Do your job," Bryant said. "You owe it to the organization and your teammates to get ready as fast and as quickly as you possibly can and to come back as strong as you possibly can."

Being out of the lineup has allowed Bryant to dissect how he played in the six games he appeared in before the fracture.

"When you have injuries that fear is enhanced and you kind of put yourself under the microscope a little bit and start thinking about it too much," he said. "The reality is it can happen to anybody, so you have to be able to tune that noise out and just go out there and perform."

Bryant had averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists on 42.5 percent shooting in his brief return and mostly liked his results.

"I learned that I can pretty much do everything that I could before, particularly the last game [against Memphis]," Bryant said. "The biggest part of my game, the last two to three years, has been getting to a space on the floor and being able to elevate and shoot pull-up jump shots and in the paint. It was a great test going up against Tony Allen, who in my opinion has been the guy that's defended me the best since I've been in the league. So to go up against him on the fourth game in five nights, and respond to that challenge, felt pretty good."

What didn't feel so good for Bryant was hearing critics, such as TNT's Charles Barkley, pipe up and say that the knee injury was the beginning of the end for him.

"It's the same old tune," Bryant said of the doubters. "It's just being sung a little more loudly now. Those type of things just really help me lock in more than ever."

Bryant does have plenty of supporters -- including LeBron James.

"It's not as special when Kobe's not out there. Let's be honest," James said after the Heat's win. "I love coming out and going up against one of the best. One of the greatest competitors we have going in our game."

"I've been hearing reports about people giving their stupid opinion about what he should do," James added. "He's not going to sit. That's not him. That's not in his nature. He's an alpha male. He's going to get healthy, and he's going to play the game that he loves and has been playing forever.

"When he gets back, he's going to play at a high level. With him, I don't expect nothing less than greatness. Obviously, we all get older each and every year, but the caliber of player he is, he can go out and put up 20 every night if he wanted to."

Before Bryant can prove anybody wrong, he has to complete his rehab to get back on the court. So far that has consisted of "a lot" of time on the exercise bicycle. He said he is also monitoring his diet to try to keep the weight off that he shed after returning from the Achilles injury and trying to strengthen other parts of his body -- namely his left ankle and left foot -- that were bothering him.

"It gives me a great opportunity to look at some of the issues or challenges I might have been having physically in other areas and then now I can readjust my program and come back even better," Bryant said.

Bryant, who played nearly an entire half in Memphis after suffering the knee injury, said it doesn't cause him any pain.

"It's really not painful, which kind of concerned me after the game," Bryant said. "Since I got in the locker room it just felt like something was off. It just felt weird. Because it just felt like it was a lot of swelling that was inside of the knee. It was a different feeling. It wasn't a painful feeling. When it's something like that [it] always worries me a little bit."

Bryant and the Lakers scheduled an MRI two days after the Grizzlies game as a precaution.

"I was going in just to be cautious," Bryant said. "I was expecting really a bone bruise more than anything else. I actually thought [Dr. Stephen] Lombardo was joking. He said, 'This is not funny.' He actually said it was quite serious."

But not too serious to test Bryant's belief in his ability to return to the court.

"The knee's not really a question for me," Bryant said. "The fracture will heal. The biggest question was how will my Achilles respond to my game, and I felt pretty good about that."

ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.

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