NBA Finals NBA Finals


Battling back

Despite food poisoning, Kobe starts Game 2

Posted: Monday May 20, 2002 3:36 PM
Updated: Monday May 20, 2002 10:54 PM
  Kobe Bryant, Vlade Divac Kobe Bryant dunks over Vlade Divac in Game 1. Rocky Widner/ NBAE/
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- All-NBA guard Kobe Bryant was in the Los Angeles Lakers' starting lineup for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Monday night despite a bout of food poisoning that left him severely dehydrated.

About two hours before tipoff, Bryant walked slowly but steadily from the Lakers' team bus to the locker room at Arco Arena, where he was given a third liter of intravenous fluids.

"I don't see any reason he wouldn't play," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He seems to be recovering."

Jackson said the Lakers will wait until game time to decide whether Bryant would start and how much he would play.

Bryant, who scored 30 points in the Lakers' 106-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings in Game 1 on Saturday, ate a bacon cheeseburger and a piece of cheesecake from hotel room service on Sunday night.

He began to feel ill about 1 a.m., and he called Lakers trainer Gary Vitti three hours later.

"He was doubled over like a shrimp," Vitti said. "Anybody who's been there before knows what he was going through."

Bryant missed the Lakers' morning shootaround while receiving fluids, and the team said he was doubtful for the game. But Bryant apparently felt better in the afternoon.

"He's the ultimate warrior, so he's going to play as much as possible," Vitti said. "Those of us who have been around here a while know what kind of a competitor he is."

Bryant missed just two games during the regular season due to a suspension for fighting with Indiana's Reggie Miller. He finished fifth in the league MVP voting after averaging 25.2 points per game, sixth in the NBA.

None of the other Lakers complained of illness, and no problems were reported from any of the other 1,200 meals served by the Lakers' hotel on Sunday night, Vitti said.

"Sometimes, these things just happen," he said.

Cheeseburgers are the only thing that has slowed down Bryant in Sacramento recently. He scored 114 points in the Lakers' past three playoff games at Arco -- all victories for Los Angeles.

Bryant has played through illnesses before. In fact, he has said poor health intensifies his focus on the court, in much the same way Michael Jordan often described.

"He might be even better that way," Lakers forward Rick Fox said.

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