Kobe Bryant suffered a likely season-ending torn Achilles tendon during the Los Angeles Lakers' 118-116 win over the Golden State Warriors, calling the injury "by far" the biggest disappointment of his long and storied career.
An MRI on Saturday will determine the extent of the injury, but the superstar guard said after Friday night's game at Staples Center that he was unable to walk and that "there was nothing there" when he tried to put pressure on his heel.
Bryant, who has been a key part of five Lakers championships since 2000 and won league MVP honors in 2008 and the NBA Finals MVP award in 2009 and 2010, suffered the injury late in the fourth quarter while driving against Warriors defender Harrison Barnes.
The injury was the latest - and likely biggest - setback in a disappointing Lakers season that began with high expectations after last summer's acquisitions of All-Star center Dwight Howard and two-time league MVP Steve Nash.
The team has been hit with injuries to Bryant, Howard, Nash and power forward Pau Gasol at different points in the season and is still battling for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff slot with just two games remaining in the regular season.
Bryant vowed to help his teammates from the bench.
"I'm going to be there still," Bryant said. "I can't be with them out there on the floor, but I can use my intellect to try to break down film and try to help them see things that they might not see."
Asked whether the injury might end his career, Bryant snapped: "Are you kidding me?"
"I can feel it already ... Players at this stage of their career, they pop an Achilles, the pundits say they never come back the same. So I can hear it already and it's pissing me off right now just thinking about it." EFE