Bum knee ends Kobe's season
HOBBLED five-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champion Kobe Bryant has been shut down for the season, the Los Angeles Lakers said on Wednesday, in a crowning blow to an abysmal year for the storied franchise.
The 35-year-old has not played since Dec 17, when he fractured his knee during a game against Memphis. This, after having missed the first 19 games of the 2013-14 NBA season recovering from a torn Achilles from last April.
"Obviously this has been a frustrating and disappointing season, but I appreciate all the support I have received from the Lakers and the fans, and look forward to being back and ready for the start of training camp," he said in a statement.
The 16-time All-Star, who has played six games this season, was examined on Wednesday by the team's physician, who determined that the injury has still not healed.
The Lakers have sagged to a 22-42 mark after posting a 45-37 record last season. With 18 games left, the team stand 151/2 games out of the eighth and last play-off berth in the Western Conference.
Bryant, who signed a two-year contract extension earlier this season, has averaged 13.8 points and 6.3 assists in his abbreviated action.
Former Laker star Shaquille O'Neal said on Wednesday that family feuding between owners Jim and Jeanie Buss is holding the team back.
"They are in disarray," O'Neal said of the Lakers.
"With him (Bryant) being out the rest of the season, they will continue to be in disarray.
"The big question is, 'Are there going to be big-time free agents wanting to go to Los Angeles?'
"If they do not get another big-name guy, they are going to have the same problem."