Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant said Saturday he has opted to play through pain in his right index finger this NBA season rather than undergo surgery because he was worried about the lengthy recovery process, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Bryant suffered an avulsion fracture in a game against Minnesota in December last year and the injury bothered him throughout the season to the point where he developed arthritis in the knuckle of that finger.
The 32-year-old underwent knee surgery in the offseason but is expected to play some preseason minutes before the Lakers' begin the new season against Houston on October 26.
He said finger surgery could have kept him out for months.
"The surgery takes too long to recover with the kind of surgery I need to do to fix it," Bryant said. "I would just miss too much of the season. It didn't make sense."
The five-time NBA champion played with a splint last season but he struggled with his grip on the ball and his shooting percentage fell.
This season he will shed the splint and simply wrap it, and he insists the pain will be minimal.
"I've been shooting without the tape. My shot feels a lot better. I can follow through with my fingers on the ball and get a better feel for it now than I did last year."
Meanwhile, Bryant's Lakers teammate Andrew Bynum said Saturday he did not expect to return to action until late November.
The 22-year-old center also underwent offseason knee surgery, but his recovery is well behind schedule.