Wonky knee puts Kobe back on the sidelines
Kobe Bryant is expected to miss about six weeks with an injured left knee — the second major injury setback of the year for the Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar guard.
An MRI exam on Thursday revealed Bryant has a fracture in his lateral tibial plateau — the top of his shinbone, near his knee.
Bryant made his season debut with the Lakers on Dec 8 after nearly eight months away while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.
He apparently was hurt again on Tuesday night in Memphis while playing his fourth game in five nights.
After playing six games in 10 days, the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history is out again until February or longer — extending the Lakers’ already miserable run of injuries well into the new year.
“You hate it for Kobe,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after Thursday’s practice. “He’s worked so hard to get back, but he’ll be back. He’ll be back in six weeks. We’ve just got to weather the storm until he returns.”
The Lakers also announced Steve Nash will be out for at least four more weeks with nerve root irritation, leaving injury-riddled Los Angeles without its top three point guards and Bryant — who filled in at the point in recent games — for at least another week.
On Thursday afternoon, a tweet was posted on Bryant’s official Twitter account that consisted solely of the hashtag: BrokenNotBeaten.
“I think he’ll be back in six weeks, and he’ll be hunting for some bear,” D’Antoni said.
The rest of the Lakers found out about Bryant’s injury after practice for Friday’s home game against Minnesota.
The remnants of the Lakers, who have lost four of six since Bryant’s return, will host Miami on Christmas Day.
“It’s hard to get this type of news, especially when we’ve already got so many injuries, when we’ve been through so many injuries the year before,” Pau Gasol said.
“It just keeps piling up. It’s not the best thing for us, for sure, but we’ve just got to continue to go forward. We understand it can happen.”
D’Antoni immediately faced questions about whether the Lakers allowed Bryant to return too quickly from his torn Achilles tendon. Athletes with an Achilles injury must remain immobile for months and typically need several weeks to regain muscle in their legs and get back into game shape.
Bryant pushed himself to return to the Lakers quickly, but his left leg appeared to be visibly smaller than his right leg after months of inactivity and atrophy.
D’Antoni and the Lakers’ top brass often joke about their inability to control Bryant’s relentless determination to play, even at the risk of his own health.
“It could happen at any time,” D’Antoni said of Bryant’s latest injury. “That’s part of it. There’s always going to be a risk until he gets used to playing, but the doctors are all over it. That’s just bad luck.”
Los Angeles signed Bryant to a lavish two-year, $48.5 million contract extension last month, taking him into his 20th season with the Lakers. Most of Los Angeles’ roster will be free agents this summer.
Meanwhile, the 39-year-old Nash, who has been injured for most of his two seasons in Los Angeles, won’t be back any time soon.
The two- time NBA MVP has played in just six games this season and hasn’t suited up since Nov 10, repeatedly traveling home to Vancouver to undergo rehabilitation on his back and hamstrings.
Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers dribbles past Memphis Grizzlies’ Jamaal Franklin during their NBA clash in Memphis on Tuesday.