Photo by Ronald Martinez | Getty Images

Kobe Bryant has proven to be one of the toughest players in the NBA. Not only with his tenacious play but his ability to play through injuries specifically.

Coming out of a nasty ankle injury in game 4, many people have been concerned about Kobe’s ankle. While Kobe silenced the critics with a series-changing jam in game 5, Phil talked about the current status of his ankle injury:

“It still affects him a lot,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said of Bryant, who sat out of Saturday’s practice. “This is not going to go away anytime soon so we’re just going to have to be close to what he’s doing and monitor it a lot. He’ll have a limited amount of practice time and it’s something he’ll have to do. It’s tender to the touch still,” Jackson said of Bryant. “He’s still limping when he walks. It’s a limied amount of improvement.”

Kobe however, responded to media questions with the kind of answer reflective of his toughness:

“I’m fine,” said Bryant, who sprained his ankle in the final minutes of the Lakers’ Game 4 loss to New Orleans and received what he called “around the clock” treatment on his ankle since that time. “I finished off Game 4 fine, played off Game 5 fine and Game 6 fine.”

The Lakers gave themselves – and Kobe’s ankle – a bit of rest by eliminating the Hornets on Thursday evening. The Lakers return to STAPLES Center Monday night for game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals against Dallas.