Why We’re Not Ready to Close the Book on Kobe Bryant’s Final Chapter Just Yet

The sun may be going down on Kobe Bryant’s career, but he hasn't faded out softly—his increasingly rare game appearances this season have been must-see moments, whether brilliant, ineffective or simply courageous.

This is how alpha dogs bow out—snarling, defiant, happy, stubborn or hurt.

The injured or unhealthy part isn’t how we want to remember them, but we can’t look away. And in Bryant’s case, we’re simply not ready to turn the page yet.

On Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, Bryant helped keep the game close until he checked out with a sore shoulder late in the third quarter after completing a two-handed dunk. By the time he re-entered with five minutes left in the final frame, the Los Angeles Lakers were down by 10 points.

But something was very obviously wrong when Bryant went back to work. The 19-year veteran was playing with one workable arm—dribbling left-handed before rising up and swishing a left-arm turnaround jumper. He attempted one more lefty shot before checking out with the game clearly out of reach.

“I've played on a torn labrum before,” Bryant said after the game, per Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com. “I'm not too concerned about it.”

The fading superstar wasn’t finished with protecting his turf, however, adding: “We make a lot of it, but the reality is, I'm doing some pretty phenomenal things in 30 minutes. My body is not that [expletive] up.”

Don’t ever be changing, Mamba. Not so long as you have a leg to stand on or an arm to shoot with.

But on Thursday, results from an MRI revealed a tear of the right rotator cuff, per the Lakers’ press release. On Friday, Bryant was examined in Los Angeles by team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, who confirmed the injury. 


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