Yesterday afternoon we learned that Kobe Bryant, with just six games of the 2013-2014 season under his belt, will miss six weeks with a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. The injury occurred in the very same leg that his tore his Achilles tendon back in April, fueling the rampant speculation that the two problems are related to one another. Regardless of the chain of events, one thing is for certain: the Lakers will be missing their franchise player for at least half of the season, if not more because of the ramp-up time his mileage-wracked, 35 year-old body needs in his 18th season.
For Kobe, this could very well be just a lost season. He’s certain to play in less than 45 games, which would incredibly be just a fraction of his previous career low even in strike-shortened years (58 games). Whether he returns in February or later, there’s speculation that he simply won’t have the time to round into shape and become the elite player he’s vowed to return to. As I’ve written before, I firmly believe the Kobe Bryant we’ve enjoyed for the previous 17 seasons is gone forever. That guy–the killer Mamba playing a merciless 42 minutes a night, dunking on multiple defenders and blocking shots on breakaways–won’t ever be coming back. In his place will be someone else who will most likely be very good, but very, very different.
But for the moment, an exposition on Kobe’s past and future is premature. He’ll come back, he’ll fight against the odds and he’ll find a way to return to effectiveness one way or another, one year or another. I’m not worried about that. The more compelling argument I’m hearing revolves around a more pertinent question: what do the Lakers do now?
(Read on at Silver Screen & Roll…)