Surgery to repair Kobe Bryant's torn Achilles tendon was successful today, the Lakers announced.
But that success doesn't necessarily mean fans can breath easy, at least not yet. Bryant's still looking at 6 to 9 months of recovery, the premature end of his season, even potential retirement.
That's the big question: Is it all over for the Lakers MVP, who'll turn 35 this summer? Gary Vitti, the team's trainer, said the injury was a "third-degree rupture" that had to be "sewn back together."
It happened late in the third quarter as the Lakers headed to a 118-116 victory over Golden State last night. And it happened without warning. Bryant took a big step, felt a pop, and went down.
Vitti downplayed speculation that Bryant's foot folded after a season of carrying his team on his back and spending too much time on court, duty that could have been reduced by head coach Mike D'Antoni:
The stuff out there with Kobe playing 48 minutes ... if you want to say it's 48 minutes, it has more to do with every minute you're on the court, gives you an opportunity of being injured. You can't be injured if you're on the bench.
... Lots of guys rupture their Achilles tendons and don't play 48 minutes. To make that correlation isn't fair. We've just had a very bad luck season, but we're not done.
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Bryant expressed frustration at 3:30 a.m. on Facebook:
This is such BS! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I've done millions of times! The frustration is unbearable. The anger is rage. Why the hell did this happen ?!? Makes no damn sense. Now I'm supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!?
... Maybe Father Time has defeated me...Then again maybe not!
... One day, the beginning of a new career journey will commence. Today is NOT that day. "If you see me in a fight with a bear, prey for the bear". Ive always loved that quote. Thats "mamba mentality" we don't quit, we don't cower, we don't run. We endure and conquer.
Will Bryant be ready for next season? "That's the plan," Vitti said.