It was announced last Friday that Kobe Bryant has a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
Bryant injured his shoulder while playing against the New Orleans Pelicans January 22, forcing him to play left-handed in the fourth quarter.
Though there’s no official word on whether Bryant will undergo surgery, he is expected to miss the rest of the season.
For Bryant, this would be the third straight year that his season was ended prematurely by injury. In 2012-13, he tore his Achilles tendon, and in 2013-14, he missed the end of the season with a knee injury.
Former NBA player and Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale weighed in on Bryant’s injury and offered a harsh reality:
“Eventually, this catches up to you, man. Kobe’s a great player, but I’ve seen other great players. When your time’s up, your time’s up, man. It’s too bad, but it happens to everybody.
“I wish him all the best. I’ve always admired him. I think he’s a hell of a competitor, but everything comes to an end. In my case, my body just said, ‘You weren’t playing anymore,’ and I said, ‘OK.'”
Kobe is 36 years old and playing in his 19th NBA season. Despite his high mileage, he was still averaging nearly 35 minutes per game this year.
With one more year on his contract, many people expected next season to be his last.
Bryant is also a famously stubborn, willful player who many people believe will not end his career unless it’s on his own terms. If Bryant wishes to play one more season (or even beyond), he’d be smart to take his time recovering from this injury, and then return next season and accept a lesser role.
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