Why Kobe Bryant’s Injury Is the Ultimate Condemnation of His Contract

The Los Angeles Lakers, of all teams, should've known better than to give Kobe Bryant a king's ransom to play until the age of 37. One needn't flash back far through the space-time continuum to understand why.

Last season, the Lakers saw the promise of their star-studded squad consumed by the disappointment of injury after injury. Pau Gasol and Steve Nash both registered new career highs in games missed—the former on account of knee and foot problems, the latter in the aftermath of a fractured fibula suffered on Halloween. Dwight Howard missed only six games, but was hardly himself on account of a bum shoulder and a surgically repaired back.

Bryant, though, was brilliant throughout. The Black Mamba spent much of the campaign in the mix for the scoring title and, during one two-week stretch, averaged an astounding 45.5 minutes per game.

That stretch ended with Kobe tearing his Achilles tendon against the Golden State Warriors. The injury cost him the rest of the Lakers' short-lived season, along with the first five weeks of 2013-14.

And yet, before Bryant so much as tested his foot in an NBA game, L.A.'s front office had rewarded its signature superstar with a two-year, $48.5 million extension. According to Kobe, there were no negotiations; just an offer that satisfied his fiscal ambitions.

Which, with Kobe's latest setback in his left knee, leaves the Lakers anything but content and may well continue to do so until his contract is through.


Instant Justification

The facts and figures of the extension came as a shock to many, though in some ways, they made sense.

Lost amidst the criticism concerning Kobe's reluctance to take a pay cut was the reality that he actually would be. Bryant will earn nearly $7 million fewer next season than the roughly $30.5 million he'll have taken home by the time spring comes and goes this year. That d...

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