"Torn ligament. Bone bruise. It is what it is."
This was Shannon Brown's downplayed assessment from Tuesday night about the state of his injured right thumb. At the risk of stating the painfully obvious (pun intended), playing professional basketball with a shredded thumb requires a high threshold for discomfort. Each time he throws down, there's a price paid, and it comes in flesh.
I asked Shannon if this situation has prompted him to pick his spots more selectively for dunks. Yes, but at the same time, if going to the basket is the plan, a dunk unfortunately remains his best option:
"Everybody tells me to try and lay the ball up. I can't do it, so I take my chances. I've tried that and I've missed layups. I've gotten my shot blocked a couple of times, trying to go in there and not dunk the ball and worrying about my thumb. It's just like there's no in between. Go hard or don't go at all."
When "go hard" is the plan, Shannon typically ends up the embodiment of a Smokey Robinson classic. "I've had to put a smile on my face to stop from tearing up or whatever," admitted the guard.
This may also explain why Shannon has taken more jumpers than advisable or effective during the last month or so. If dunking can grow unbearable and finesse finishes are admittedly not a strong suit (particularly with a tape job making your already ginormous hand even more unwieldy), we move to option C. Like Shannon said, it is what is.
And for the Lakers, that same mindset will ultimately need adopting as they negotiate roughly a zillion injuries during the playoffs. But it's worth taking a second to acknowledge and appreciate what Brown -along with Kobe, Drew, LO, Luke, Ron, Jordan, Sasha (should he return), etc.- endure while trying to compete under physical duress. It ain't easy and it deserves respect.
Ronny Turiaf told us earlier this season about injuries tend to beget more injuries. Guys have to play more minutes, often are forced to play out of position, and leave themselves more vulnerable to their own trip to the trainer's office.
"We usually end up paying the price at one point or another."
The Lakers definitely haven't emerged the exception to that rule, having repeatedly paid that metaphorical bill all season. Hopefully, there's still enough money in the team's collective wallet to properly fund a successful playoff run.