NEW: Bryant has "successful" surgery to repair the tendon
NEW: Recovery time "a minimum of six to nine months"
Bryant has said that next year could be his last in the league
Lakers have two games left in race for playoffs
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant could be sidelined for up to nine months after tearing his Achilles tendon, the team said Saturday.
The injury happened Friday against the Golden State Warriors. An MRI later confirmed the tear.
“Bryant elected to have surgery to repair the torn left Achilles tendon,” the team said. “The successful surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. Stephen Lombardo of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Group. Recovery time is expected to be a minimum of six to nine months.”
A ruptured Achilles could take up to a year to heal, according to Will Carroll, sports injuries lead writer for Bleacher Report. Bryant has previously said that next season could be his last in the NBA. This is the 16th season in the league for the 34-year-old.
Asked if the timetable means Bryant will be back next season, trainer Gary Vitti said on Twitter “that’s the plan.”
Bryant reacted with disappointment on social media after the injury. On his Facebook page he posted a lengthy update:
“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?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that??
“I have NO CLUE. Do I have the consistent will to overcome this thing? Maybe I should break out the rocking chair and reminisce on the career that was. Maybe this is how my book ends. Maybe Father Time has defeated me.”
Later, Bryant called the injury the first step in a new challenge.
“One day, the beginning of a new career journey will commence. Today is NOT that day,” he wrote. The post received more than 136,000 likes.
According to an earlier tweet from the Lakers, Bryant could tell what the injury was before seeing a doctor.
“I was just hoping it wasn’t what I thought it was,” Bryant said, according to the tweet.
The Lakers have two games left in the regular season, both at home. They face the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday and the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
After beating the Warriors 118-116, the team is one game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final spot in the NBA’s Western Conference playoffs.
Bryant is the NBA’s fourth all-time leading scorer, and he currently ranks among the top three in the NBA in scoring this season, averaging 27.3 points. This season, he has averaged 5.6 rebounds, a team-high 6.0 assists, 1.36 steals and 38.6 minutes in 78 games.