Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he thought Kobe Bryant was initially faking an injury when he tore his Achilles tendon near the end of last season.
Bryant suffered the injury during the Lakers' 118-116 victory over the Warriors on April 12. After Bryant fell to the floor with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter, a confused official called a phantom foul on Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. Despite the injury, Bryant stayed in the game to make two free throws.
"Even in the midst of going against him I'm in huddle I'm saying, 'Don't fall for the okeydoke. He's all right. Don't allow him to take over this game,' not knowing that he was really hurt," Jackson said. "That's one regret I have. If had to do it again I would have called a timeout and allowed him to walk off the floor."
The Warriors gained possession after the made free throws. Jackson then declined to call timeout to stop the game to allow Bryant to go to the bench. With the ball in play, Lakers guard Steve Blake fouled Warriors guard Stephen Curry to stop the clock at the 3:05 mark. It was revealed later that night that Bryant had a torn Achilles tendon.
"If I would've known Kobe Bryant was hurt I would've called a timeout," Jackson said. "They would have not had to call a timeout. That's how much respect I have for him."
Jackson said he apologized to Bryant when both teams were in China during the preseason. Bryant said he told Jackson he had no clue what he was talking about.
"I thought it was important to let him know that," Jackson said. "Typical Kobe. He said thank you, appreciate it and he's coming at us next time he sees us. But I feel the same way. It's mutual respect and appreciation for one of the best to do it."