Kobe Bryant injured his right shoulder Wednesday night against the Pelicans; now, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne is reporting that he'll miss the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff. Neither Kobe nor the Lakers have confirmed, yet; there's still some talk of uncertainty over whether he'll opt for surgery or "various options." If Shelburne's report is true, though, Old Man Kobe will have suffered season-ending injuries in three straight seasons. He's 36. His body is broken down. It's very nearly over.
The Lakers weren't going anywhere, anyway; the best possible outcome for this season was for this rotten team to lose enough games to keep its top-5 protected pick in the upcoming draft, so even if Kobe could play again this season, neither he nor L.A.'s brass have any incentive to put more basketball on his weary bones before November. And that's if you accept the dubious proposition that Kobe was helping the Lakers win games in the first place. He was posting ghastly numbers at both ends of the floor, and even his own teammates have acknowledged that the team is better when his role is smaller.
Of course, that didn't stop Kobe from doing quintessentially Kobe stuff—posting flatly ludicrous usage numbers for a broken-down 36-year-old, cranking 28-footers early in the shot clock for the hell of it, describing this behavior as though it was his grim duty and not the expression of his singular basketball psychosis—and it didn't stop fans from voting him an All-Star Game starter. He won't play in that, of course, clearing the way for someone more deserving, if also more boring—probably James Harden, a legitimate MVP candidate.
Which gets at a bummer of a new reality we're all going to have to get familiar with pretty soon: The NBA both makes a lot more sense, and is a bit more boring, when crusty old Kobe's not around.
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