Happy Ending to Kobe Bryant’s Career Hard to Imagine After Latest Setback

Father Time has a cruel, heart-rending way of reminding the world he's undefeated.

On the ninth anniversary of Kobe Bryant's 81-point romp against the Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Lakers announced the 36-year-old suffered a torn right rotator cuff that will sideline him indefinitely.

Soon after, ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne brought word that Bryant is done for the season:

Already on a maintenance program and loosely enforced minutes cap, Bryant's latest setback doesn't just end his season—it threatens to damn any remaining chance he had at a happy ending.

There are no signs that this is a career-threatening injury. Bryant, as he did when he tore his Achilles, tried to shake this one off. With the Lakers trailing the New Orleans Pelicans by double digits on Wednesday, he returned in the fourth quarter, adamant that the unknown damage wasn't serious:

As Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding points out, this isn't an uncommon injury, either:

Still, whatever rehab is involved won't slow time. We know Bryant will work and work and work, monitoring everything right down to his diet. We just don't know what good this will do anymore after watching every effort to remain healthy and relevant be met by another roadblock.

From the vetoed Chris Paul trade, to a torn left Achilles, to Dwight Howard's departure, to a fractured lateral tibial plateau in 2013-14, Bryant's twilight has been put on life support more than once.

Now this, yet another injury for the once-durable, time-thwarting Bryant, who has spent all season watching the ground beneath him ruck and rumple. And that's the dispiriting part of all this—the familiarity of shrinking hope.

The process he has trusted, the craft he has honed and dominated for so long is betraying him. And as CBS Sports' Matt Moore writes, there is little, if anything, he can ...

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