If the below-pictured ankle belonged to the leader of a team hanging onto its playoff life by a thread not named Kobe Bryant, that team would be wise to start planning for next season.
However, this is the Black Mamba we're are talking about. He knows how to handle pain, and he also knows how to let us know he is handling pain. Check out his tweet of his messed-up ankle:
Kobe Bryant @kobebryant
17yrs. Countless fades. This has happened TWICE. Jalen and Now Ankle still very swollen. Treatment all day #focus http://t.co/yyDMRWEGd33/14/2013, 6:29:20 PM
Just looking at that picture makes me hesitant to get up off my couch, let alone play basketball. However, it's not likely to slow Bryant down for long.
Bryant sprained his ankle in the final seconds of his team's loss to Atlanta on Wednesday. The injury occurred after he landed on Hawks guard Dahntay Jones' foot.
Needless to say, Bryant was not happy about Jones coming up under him or the no-call on the play. And he shouldn't have been. This situation was avoidable and in this instance, it could cost the Lakers a chance at the postseason.
However, we have been here with Bryant before, as Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski highlights with this tweet:
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
Bryant sullen and angry over ankle sprain, called it his worst sprain since 2000 season.3/14/2013, 3:08:37 AM
After Jalen Rose came under Bryant on a jumper in the above-mentioned finals, Bryant sprained his ankle. It forced him to miss Game 3, but he returned no worse for wear in Game 4.
Now, Bryant is quite a bit older at this stage of his career, but we haven't seen anything from him to suggest he has a slower recovery time table or a lower threshold for pain.
Bryant's played and excelled through countless injuries. We shouldn't expect this to keep him on the shelf for long, if at all.
The Lakers next take the court on Friday in Indiana against the Pacers. This was going to be a tough game even with Bryant at full strength.
That is a light schedule against teams the Lakers should be able handle. This gives Bryant a soft landing, unlike the one that caused his injury.
The Lakers are currently tied in the loss column and have a half-game lead on the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
While this injury puts the Lakers in an immediately precarious position, they will be just fine in the long run.
The Lakers have been surging and climbing up the playoff ladder. Bryant is going to be back and looking like the Mamba in no time, and the Lakers will distance themselves from the Jazz or any other team threatening to knock them out of the postseason.