On Saturday the Los Angeles Lakers announced that Kobe Bryant has a torn left Achilles; the MRI scheduled for Saturday confirmed that.
”I made a move that I’ve made a million times, and it just popped,” he said while leaning on crutches in the Lakers’ locker room.
Bryant, 34, suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 118-116 hallowed over the Golden State Warriors on Friday. After the game, the Lakers announced Bryant had a “probable” torn left Achilles.
“It’s a third-degree tear. It’s gone. Completely torn,” said team trainer Gary Vitti.
Bryant underwent surgery in Los Angeles at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday to repair the tear. According to the team, recovery time is between six and nine months.
Vitti said Kobe’s plan is to return for the 2013-14 season.
There was some feeling that Kobe’s stretch of heavy minutes might have contributed to the injury. Vitti stressed that, in his opinion, the two aren’t related.
“Everyone wants to know why. There’s not always a reason why. If you look at our season, it’s been a nightmare,” he said. “Some of it’s just bad luck. The stuff out there about Kobe … to say he was injured because he played 48 minutes is a stretch.”
Training camps for next season will begin in early October, which is about six months away. If Kobe can recover on the early end of his timetable, he could conceivably be ready to begin the 2013-14 season, which would be the 18th of his career.
The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history has been ferociously competitive down the stretch of the Lakers’ tumultuous season. While Pau Gasol and Steve Nash have missed long stretches of play with injuries, and while Dwight Howard struggled to get to full strength after last year’s back surgery, Bryant played through a sprained ankle and countless minor woes.
“It’s fueling me. It’s fueling me,” Kobe said Friday. “I can feel it already. I can feel it already. Players at this stage they pop an Achilles, and the pundits say they never come back the same. So I can hear it already, and it’s pissing me off right now just thinking about it.”
Typical Kobe, would we expect anything else.
Los Angeles (43-37) stayed one game ahead of the Utah Jazz (42-38) for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference with two games to go. The Jazz hold the tiebreaker.