The Lakers have had Kobe Bryant on the floor for just six games this season, and now they won't see him again until February — at least. It's a significant enough injury for the 35-year-old that the Lakers put out a news release complete with reactions from other players. Outlets like ESPN put together multi-story packages and columnists began to wonder if mounting injuries would slow down and ultimately end Bryant's career earlier than he might have hoped.
Specifically, Bryant suffered a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee during Tuesday night's Lakers victory over the Grizzlies in Memphis. The fracture does not require surgery to heal, apparently. Bryant tweeted:
Thank you my fellow nba brothers for all the luv and support #Respect— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) December 20, 2013
The Lakers also said today that Steve Nash will be out four more weeks. From ESPN.com's J.A. Adande:
The word that comes to mind on the latest Kobe Bryant injury news?
NBA fans are deprived of about 21 chances of what are starting to feel like increasingly finite opportunities to watch Bryant play basketball. Bryant is deprived of the joy he clearly gets from the game. The Lakers could be deprived of roster flexibility if more than a third of their salary cap the next 2½ seasons is devoted to a player who can't stay on the court. And it's looking as if his increasingly fragile body could deprive him of a chance to set the NBA's all-time points mark.
We'll calculate those numbers in a moment, but first, it's natural to wonder about the emotional repercussions, which eventually will dictate whether Bryant wants to stick around long enough to reach the top of the record book.