Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant’s $3 million possible deal to play 10 games in Italy during the NBA lockout was aided by a former physician to Pope John Paul II who treated the Lakers star this summer with a pioneering blood treatment.

Bryant traveled to Dusseldorf, Germany, in June for treatment, as previously reported. ESPN The Magazine has learned that he was treated by Dr. Peter Wehling, an influential but little-known molecular orthopedist who insists he’s having breakthrough success repairing aging joints by manipulating his patients’ blood.

According to a source familiar with Bryant’s treatment, his blood was treated to isolate growth factors that attack inflammation, and then cultured with chemicals to increase their potency before being injected into his arthritic right knee.

Wehling declined to confirm or deny that he treated Bryant. But in a rare interview about his work, he told ESPN The Magazine, “I am the only one to have found a way to cure arthritis.”

– Reported by Shaun Assael of ESPN The Magazine