The sun has already set on the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2012-2013 campaign, even if they do end up making the playoffs.
Why is that? Because Kobe Bryant is no longer in the picture following his probable Achilles tendon tear on Friday night.
Throughout this season, Bryant has been the driving force behind the Lakers’ surprisingly improbable push for a spot in the NBA‘s postseason soiree. Even when all hope seemed lost, the Black Mamba would strike, putting the Lakers on his back and carrying them to one improbable win after another.
Regardless of what the test results show, Bryant is done for the season. He admitted to not being able to walk after the game, and that’s something that not even the medical miracle that is Kobe can shrug off like the many other injuries he’s played through in the past. Most Achilles injuries take at least six months to heal, which means that getting Bryant back for the playoffs absolutely won’t be an option for the Lakers.
Considering the way that the Lakers have played this season, being without Bryant is a death sentence. None of their star players – Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash – have played with any sort of consistency this season, often depending on Bryant to pick up the slack. Even with the superstar out of the picture, none of them are likely to flip the switch quickly enough to carry the Lakers through the playoffs.
The Lakers simply can’t compete at this point without Bryant in the lineup. They have the talent and firepower, but the chemistry and mental toughness just aren’t there. Even if someone was to step up and take over the leadership role, the absence of Bryant will be too much for the Lakers to bounce back from in such a short amount of time.
The final nail is in the coffin. Call it premature, but the Lakers’ season has effectively been deemed a lost cause.