Kobe Bryant fell to the floor with 3:08 remaining in the fourth quarter of his Los Angeles Lakers’ 118-116 win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night. Following a timeout, Bryant went back onto the court, made both of his free throw attempts and left the game with 34 points, five rebounds and four assists. He had played every minute of the game up until that point, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to tie the Warriors only forty seconds before going down with what was later diagnosed as a torn achilles tendon in his left leg.
As Bryant answered questions in a postgame media scrum, he stood – a feat only possible through the assistance of crutches – with tears mixed with sweat on his face, making the MRI scheduled for Saturday seem perfunctory. While Friday night’s win might strengthen the Lakers’ hold on the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA’s Western Conference, Friday night’s loss is likely to have a far bigger impact on their season, as it renders Bryant unable to participate any further, with or without a postseason entry.
To fans, the Lakers losing Bryant is like going to see a movie because of the lead actor, only for his or her character to get killed off before the climax of the film. It’s not supposed to happen this way. Not to him. Not like this.