That was Kobe Bryant’s official public response to the news that he’s going to miss six weeks of action after an MRI revealed a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. Even as a guy who isn’t exactly a Kobe apologist, this sucks.
Gone now are pipe dreams that he may catch Kareem’s scoring record or even Karl Malone for second on the list. Now we have to worry if Kobe will play for the length of his contract extension. The new contract would take Kobe into his 20th season, a mark that only four players have ever reached, and yes he has 48 million reasons to reach that plateau as well, but this decision is up to his body.
The injury alone isn’t devastating, but coupled with his torn Achilles on the same leg just eight months ago, the signs of Kobe Bean’s body beginning the unavoidable process of breaking down after years of rigorous performance are evident. This is how long careers end, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Shaq, Chris Webber, Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade and so on serve as examples gone before. The human body isn’t meant to survive the intensity of a long NBA career.
These aren’t the first signs of Kobe’s body breaking down either. Multiple trips to Germany for blood therapy procedures and changes in style of play were Kobe’s way of fighting off the undefeated father time. Slashing less and posting more Kobe has extended his career as a high usage player longer than anybody before him. Last year Kobe scored more points in his 17th season than anybody ever has in their 17th season, and he was 287 points ahead of second place Karl Malone.
But then he tore his Achilles, during the Lakers desperate and successful push for a playoff spot late last season. This came in a season where Kobe was somehow fourth in minutes played, despite 1.) Missing his final two games and 2.) Being the only player in the top 30 to be over 30 years of age.
In his return for six uneventful games this year, Kobe wasn’t himself, but still smart enough and crafty enough to be effective. Very passive, his 6.3 assists per game in an extremely small sample size would be the highest mark of his career if he somehow keeps it up when he returns. Even in his weakened state, the Mamba still found a way to shoot 9-18 against Tony Allen and the Grizzlies in his final game, including knocking down a clutch three-pointer late.
I know this isn’t the last time we are going to see Kobe Bryant, but who knows if this is the last time we see the Kobe Bryant we all know and, whether we want to admit it or not, love.