It’s official. The Lakers have announced that Kobe Bryant is done for the rest of the season due to complications in his left knee after he fractured his tibia December 17th in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies. If you’re scoring at home that means Kobe will receive a little over $30 million (a league high) this season to play in a grand total of six games. Yes, six.
This has all the signs of a player simply breaking down after the vigorous wear and tear of 18 NBA seasons coupled with playing in the fourth most playoff games of all time (a whopping 220, nearly three extra seasons worth of games), and that’s perfectly acceptable.
What sucks is that Kobe had an outside shot at passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA career points leader (31,056 to Kareem’s 38,387), and that’s completely off the table now. Also, if you’re a Laker fan, that means you now have $48 million committed to an aging slowly eroding star, and aging slowly eroding stars basically never right the ship.
At 22-42 and tied for last in the Western Conference, there was really no reason for Kobe to return this season anyway, other than novelty, so it’s a smart move, especially if it means he will be healthier in the long run. We know now that we’ve seen Kobe’s best days, what we don’t know is if we’ve seen his last. Only time will tell.