Bryant plays in wake of bad meal

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- 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.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson put Bryant in the starting lineup after he participated in pregame warmups without any problems.

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 Sunday night.

He began to feel ill about 1 a.m., and 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."

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