Thanks to a scary injury, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has a new look and a new nickname.
Kuzma suffered what the Lakers are calling an eye abrasion against the Thunder in a 112-107 victory on Tuesday night. The gruesome injury left the 24-year-old forward bloodied against the Thunder after he took an elbow from Darius Bazley right between the eyes.
Kuzma exited after just nine minutes, scoring five points. However, he did try to persuade the Lakers medical staff to put him back in.
“God gave me two eyes for a reason,” Kuzma told reporters on Thursday. “I tried to go back in. … But (Coach) Frank (Vogel) was being super cautious about my health. Sometimes I’m not, I’m a competitor, but we made the right decision because the next day I couldn’t even open my eye.”
Now on the mend from the injury, Kuzma will wear goggles for the foreseeable future. He said that the eye just opened back up recently and things are still a little blurry.
“Doing better,” Kuzma said. “Yesterday (the eye) was completely shut. Now it’s open, so I can see a little bit better. Still blurry. I went to the doctor, had like four, five scratches in the eye. It’s all right, though.
“Couldn’t really see nothing. Even yesterday I really couldn’t see much until nighttime … it’s kind of serious. I mean, could’ve been worse. Even now it’s still blurry, it’s kind of scary.”
‘Big Game Kuz’ Ready for Action
He also put out a suggestion for a new nickname thanks to his new on-court spectacles, wanting to now go by “Big Game Kuz” — a shout out to former goggled great James Worthy.
“I’m James Worthy now,” Kuzma joked. “Big Game Kuz. I like how that sounds.”
Kuzma said he plans to play Friday against the Thunder.
Lakers Hopeful Eye Injury Not Serious For Kyle Kuzma
As Kuzma said, the Lakers made the right call by not putting him back into the game, which Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confirmed was a conversation.
“He very much wanted to play,” Vogel confirmed. “I just had to hold him out. Sometimes you have to do what’s in the best interest of the player, and that was the case here.”
Vogel is hoping the injury doesn’t linger and that Kuzma can adjust to life behind the goggles.
“There’s always a concern when you have an injury, especially one that could be a little bit of a nagging injury,” he said. “But we’ll keep an eye on it and hopefully it won’t be a problem.”
Kuzma has played 10 games since returning from a left ankle stress reaction that kept him out the first four games of the season. He had notched double-digit scoring in six of his last seven games before the injury, averaging around 25 minutes. In the five games before leaving against the Thunder, Kuzma averaged 18 points and shooting 50% from the field and 46.9% from beyond the arc.
The Lakers are 4.5-point road favorites for their contest against the Thunder on Friday. The total is set at 211.