Kyle Kuzma is looking to the bright side of the eye injury that he just suffered.
The Los Angeles Lakers forward, who got hit in the right eye during Tuesday’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, sustained an abrasion to the eye that will require him to wear goggles for the indefinite future. Kuzma indicated to reporters on Thursday that he was looking forward to the James Worthy look, calling himself “Big Game Kuz.”
Kuzma said his eye only opened back up today. He'll wear goggles for the foreseeable future.
"Big Game Kuz, I like how that sounds," Kuzma said.
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) November 21, 2019
Kuzma, who is averaging 13.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game so far this season, is looking for inspiration in the right place. After all, Worthy was a Hall of Famer who played Kuzma’s position, won three titles, and was one of the greatest Lakers ever.
Considering how nasty the injury looked, at least Kuzma was able to turn it into something of a positive.
Kyle Kuzma was bleeding from around his right eye after taking an elbow to the face during the second quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 112-107 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.
Kuzma was defending Darius Bazley, who was trying to get by his man. Bazley caught Kuzma in the face with his elbow while making a move.
Kyle Kuzma takes an elbow straight to his eye pic.twitter.com/ewCdK7aYQf
— NBA RETWEET (@RTNBA) November 20, 2019
Kuzma began bleeding and left the game. He was termed questionable but did not return to the game despite taking some shots at halftime.
Kyle Kuzma got poked in the eye in that first half. He’s questionable to return. He ran out at halftime just before the 3rd Q, and took a few shots, before returning to the bench to talk to the training staff.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 20, 2019
After the Lakers’ win, head coach Frank Vogel said Kuzma had an eye abrasion and was cleared to return, but the coach used his better judgment in not playing the forward any further.
Kuzma had five points in nine minutes before exiting. He’s averaging 14 points in 23.7 minutes per game this season.
- Kyle Kuzma
The financial ramifications of the situation between China and the NBA have yet to be fully realized, but some players who were overseas for exhibition games last week experienced direct consequences in the wake of Daryl Morey’s controversial tweets.
Shams Charania of The Athletic has shared numerous behind-the-scenes details from the ongoings in China over the past week or so, and he was told by sources that several Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets players — one of which was Kyle Kuzma — lost money when sponsorship appearances were canceled. The same was true for at least two Houston Rockets players.
The Lakers and Nets ended up playing in Shanghai despite plenty of uncertainty and uneasiness surrounding their exhibition games. The Chinese government canceled all media appearances and went to great lengths to remove sponsorship logos from the arena where the games were held, and some believe they chose not to cancel the games to show the NBA what an event would look like without endorsements and sponsorship money.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has his work cut out for him in what has become an incredibly complicated situation, but Charania reports that front office and ownership sources feel Silver has been able to stabilize the situation overall. However, the belief around the league is that there could be “irreparable losses for the Rockets in the indefinite future.”
All of this started with Morey tweeting his support of the pro-democracy protests that have been going on in China. Fans both in China and the United States have been upset over the way the NBA has handled the situation, and some fans were even ejected from a game in Philadelphia last week over an issue related to the topic.
Do you support Free Speech? Do you stand with Daryl Morey? Get the shirt that says so below!
Sorry, conspiracy theorists: Kyle Kuzma’s ankle injury was not something made up as an excuse for cutting him from Team USA; it’s legitimate and still bothering him.
Kuzma was cut by Team USA last month just ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China due to his ankle injury, which coach Gregg Popovich termed a “huge disappointment.” Even a month later Kuzma is still trying to recover from the injury.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported on Tuesday that Kuzma is expected to miss the beginning of the Los Angeles Lakers’ training camp.
The injury, initially labeled "ankle soreness" last month while Kuzma was on @usabasketball duty, forced Team USA to send him home from Australia after the third-year Laker was expected to land a significant frontcourt role for Gregg Popovich
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 24, 2019
Stein interestingly was told the injury is a “stress injury” in Kuzma’s lower left leg. Kuzma seemed to respond to the report with a tweet.
Internet know more about me than I do myself apparently lol
— kuz (@kylekuzma) September 24, 2019
Kuzma is only entering his third season in the league, but due to all the changes on the Lakers’ roster, he was acting like a team leader over the summer. The 24-year-old averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season.
- Kyle Kuzma
Puma’s expansion into the basketball world appears to be continuing.
Puma is close to signing Kyle Kuzma to an endorsement deal, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein.
Hearing some buzz from the shoe game since arriving in China: Puma is closing in on a deal to sign the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma .. who was forced to withdraw from Team USA last month with an ankle injury
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 11, 2019
Puma has long been a popular sports apparel brand, but they hadn’t been involved in basketball in around 20 years until re-entering the marketplace last year. They signed players such as Marvin Bagley, Deandre Ayton, Zhaire Smith, and Michael Porter Jr., and have since added more athletes, like RJ Barrett, DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Kevin Knox, Rudy Gay and Terry Rozier.
In February, Puma announced that they had become an official partner of the NBA.
Kuzma would be Puma’s third Lakers player, joining Cousins and Green.
Gregg Popovich seems truly bummed out about Kyle Kuzma being cut by Team USA due to an ankle injury.
USA Basketball finalized the roster of 12 players that will be part of Team USA competing at the FIBA World Cup next weekend. Kuzma, who had been with USA Basketball in training camp and did not play in an exhibition game against Australia due to his ankle, did not make the cut.
In comments shared by MassLive.com’s John Karalis, Popovich expressed his “disappointment” over Kuzma being hurt.
Pop on Kuzma cont: …"So, hopefully, he’ll heal quickly. But, he was wonderful while he was here, and we do miss him." (2/2)
— John Karalis 🇬🇷 (@RedsArmy_John) August 25, 2019
Los Angeles Lakers fans should be somewhat concerned too. While some wondered if the ankle injury was a cover for cutting Kuzma, Popovich saying the injury could hold Kuzma back for the start of the season signifies how real it is.
The 24-year-old was one of the few remaining players on the Lakers after their huge Anthony Davis trade during the summer. He says he is taking on a leadership role with the team, which is full of many new faces. Kuzma averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season.
Kyle Kuzma has only been teammates with Anthony Davis for a little over a month, but he is already getting some good digs in.
Addressing reporters on Tuesday at Team USA camp in Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Lakers forward clowned his new frontcourt mate for skipping out.
“It’s lonely,” said Kuzma of being the only Laker to participate, per Kyle Goon of Southern California News Group. “My boy AD was supposed to come, but he had other plans.”
Davis, who was traded to the Lakers earlier this summer, was one of countless superstar withdrawals from USA Basketball, including LeBron James, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, and Kevin Love. Kuzma, meanwhile, is getting his first taste of international basketball experience at 24 years old.
The 6-foot-9 forward being the Lakers’ sole representative on Team USA does seem a bit odd, and it is not the only thing about the team that Kuzma is (albeit jokingly) upset about.