Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is only the latest to be nursing an injury before the NBA's regular season kicks off Oct. 30. (Photo : Reuters)
Bodies, bodies, everywhere.
Or at least, that's what it's beginning to feel like during the NBA preseason as teams get set to wrap up the exhibition games and compete for real when the season kicks off Oct. 30.
In the last two weeks, vital players for several of the NBA's teams have been bitten by the injury bug, a bad omen before the official start of the grueling 82-game schedule.
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Most recently, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant became the latest victim, sitting out of practice Monday with a strained right foot, team officials told ESPN.
"They told me it was day to day and when they tell me it's day to day, that means that, in my opinion, at any day he can be released to play again," Lakers coach Mike Brown said of Bryant's status, which is listed as day to day. "I'll just wait for them to clear him and then he'll be playing again."
Bryant also missed several practices and a training camp game because of discomfort in that foot.
Bryant-who is ailing just as new Lakers center Dwight Howard returned from back surgery Sunday-is not alone on the list of injured stars on teams that look to vie for playoff, or even championship, contention this year.
New York Knicks star power forward Amar'e Stoudemire is expected to miss at least two to three weeks due to a ruptured cyst in his left knee, CNN reported this week. The injury is only the latest in a string to hit the maligned forward, who came off a recent bruised knee, and last season had an injured hand and back problems that limited his game play.
Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin also continues to struggle in the preseason following his recovery from knee surgery last season, with some pointing to his knee as the likely culprit behind Lin's slow start.
The entire season of the Chicago Bulls is also resting on how fast former league MVP Derrick Rose can recover from his ACL surgery after tearing the ligament in his knee during last season's playoffs. With a healthy Rose, the Bulls are a championship contender; without him, their season could end prematurely as it did last season.
Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love and Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki are also on the sidelines, Love due to miss several weeks after breaking his hand during practice last week and Nowitzki electing to undergo surgery in his swollen knees that will put him out of action between six to eight weeks.
Love's injury for the Wolves comes on top of missing star point guard Ricky Rubio, still on the sidelines after tearing his ACL during a regular season game last year.
Andrew Bogut and Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors are also on the mend, with Bogut nursing a surgically repaired fractured ankle and Curry spraining his previously injured right ankle.
For the Western Conference, the injuries to players on the Warriors and Mavericks could play a key factor in whether they can make the playoffs in basketball's most competitive conference. Players like Novitzki, Bogut and Curry could mean the difference down the stretch in deciding who goes on to the May NBA playoffs...and who goes home.