Kobe Bryant’s long road back to basketball greatness has experienced another detour. Bryant is expected to miss six weeks with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, suffered Tuesday night in the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Bryant went down when he tried to spin left and drive to the hole on Memphis’ Tony Allen. He was slow to get up, but stayed in the game and even hit a 28-foot three-pointer down the stretch to seal the 96-92 win.
Bryant believed his knee was merely hyperextended, and even laughed off his initial fear that it might be a serious injury after the game. He spoke at length with no idea of the true severity of the situation:
"The love for the game is always there. Now, because of the (Achilles) injury and because the finish line is a lot closer, you have a greater appreciation for the entire body of work—and trying to finish it out on your terms."
The tibial plateau is the area above the shin that affects the knee joint. A fracture can negatively impact stability and motion of the knee, and carries the risk of arthritis in the future.
It is the same side of Bryant’s body that has gone through so much recovery and rehabilitation after he ruptured his left Achilles tendon in April.
If Bryant is out six weeks, he will miss 21 games—including the Lakers' entire seven-game Grammy road trip in January.
The Lakers will need Pau Gasol to continue to have big games as he has in the past week, particularly with point guard Jordan Farmar at least a week away from returning from his hamstring tear. Los Angeles is also missing point guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake due to injury, and neither is expected back anytime soon.