LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Just 11 days after Kobe Bryant made his long-awaited return for the Los Angeles Lakers, the shooting guard will be out for about six weeks because of a knee injury, the team announced on Thursday.
The 35-year-old, who spent almost eight months on the sidelines with a torn left Achilles’ tendon before making his comeback on December 8, hyper-extended his left knee during Tuesday’s 96-92 win against the Grizzlies in Memphis.
Bryant, a 15-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion, had an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam on Thursday and was also examined by a team physician.
“Results of the MRI show that Bryant has a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau of his knee,” the Lakers said in a statement. “He is expected to be out approximately six weeks.”
Bryant’s latest injury comes as a major blow for the Lakers, who only last month signed the league veteran to a lucrative two-year contract extension.
“You hate it for Kobe,” Lakers coach Mike D‘Antoni said. “He’s worked so hard to get back.”
Xavier Henry will take over as starting point guard in Bryant’s absence, the Lakers said.
Bryant’s widely anticipated return from his Achilles’ tendon injury gave the team a significant boost, though they have struggled to a win-loss record of 2-4 since then.
Making matters worse for the Lakers is that all three of their point guards have been sidelined by injury - Steve Nash (nerve damage in back), Steve Blake (torn ligament in right elbow) and Jordan Farmar (torn hamstring).
Bryant has averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in six games this season for the Lakers (12-13) who sit 11th in the 15-team Western Conference.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry