LOS ANGELES, April 14 – Kobe Bryant underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon which could sideline the Los Angeles Lakers star for up to nine months, the NBA team announced Saturday.
The 15-time all-star Bryant left the court in agony toward the end of Friday’s 118-116 win over Golden State and later declared his season over.
Bryant chose to have immediate surgery to repair the damage to his torn left Achilles, undergoing an operation on Saturday.
“The successful surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. Stephen Lombardo,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “Recovery time is expected to be a minimum of six to nine months.”
Lakers head trainer Gary Vitti described the torn tendon as a “third degree rupture.”
“It is gone. It has to be sewn back together,” said Vitti earlier Saturday.
Bryant said immediately after the game that he felt a “pop” as he tried to beat Harrison Barnes to the outside with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s tight contest.
“I felt like I got kicked. It is a move I make a million times and pop,” Bryant said. “Just a freak situation I guess.”
Bryant later vented in the early morning hours Saturday on his Facebook page saying that he isn’t sure he can come back from the injury.
“This is such BS! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I’ve done millions of times!,” Bryant wrote on Facebook.
“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??”
The future Hall of Famer also pondered whether this might be the end for him as an NBA superstar.
“Maybe this is how my book ends,” he wrote. “Maybe Father Time has defeated me … Then again maybe not.”
Bryant had a chance to collect his thoughts and was in a more upbeat mood Saturday afternoon, posting a photo of himself wearing hospital garb and getting ready to go for the surgery.
“Lookin like Mrs Doubtfire with a jerri curl cap lol. Anesthesia next,” he wrote.
Vitti meanwhile said the Lakers were confident Bryant would return sometime in the 2013-14 season. “That’s the plan,” he said. “He’s accepted the challenge. For us, the hardest part will be keeping him down.”
Bryant’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Lakers who are in a close battle for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Bryant’s Laker teammate Pau Gasol said they are going to have to step up their play without him.
“The season has been full of obstacles & difficulties,” Gasol wrote on Twitter. “I am sure we will keep fighting till the very end as we have been doing,” he added.
Miami Heat star LeBron James also reacted to Bryant’s injury, writing on Twitter that he expects Bryant to return just as strong as ever.
“Damn man i feel bad for @kobebryant. If there’s anybody and i mean anybody who can come back from that injury it would be him! Best wishes!.”
With just three games left in the season heading into Friday’s contest, the fourth leading scorer in NBA history had been on a punishing pace trying to carry the Lakers on his back down the stretch.
Bryant tried playing games without taking a break and it finally caught up to him with the devastating injury.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said Friday he tried but couldn’t convince Bryant to take more breaks during games. He said Bryant was the one, not the coaching staff, dictating how many minutes he would play each game.
“I hate it. I hate it for Kobe. I hate it for LA,” said D’Antoni.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak defended the decision to allow Bryant to play through pain this season.
“No, I don’t think Mike is at blame here one bit,” Kupchak said. “Certainly anybody can second guess … Even if you take Kobe out of the game there are a lot of times where he will just get up and put himself back into the game.”
Bryant currently ranks third in the NBA in scoring this season, averaging 27.3 points per game. He also averages 5.6 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 78 games this season.