On Wednesday, Kobe Bryant will undergo surgery to repair his torn right rotator cuff, probably knocking him out for the rest of the season.
Can he withstand another grueling stretch of rehab after fighting his way back from Achilles and knee injuries that kept him out all but six games last season?
“It’s just a matter of if he wants to go through it all again,” Denver Nuggets Coach Brian Shaw said Monday night before his team played the Clippers at Staples Center. “I don’t think that you can put anything past him.”
Shaw spent four years as a teammate with Bryant, winning three titles in a row starting in 2000. Shaw was also an assistant coach under Phil Jackson with the Lakers.
Bryant has one more year left on his contract. Shaw expects he’ll return for another season.
“I don’t think he wants to go out the way that he’s out now,” said Shaw. “The games that he’s been able to play, up to this point in the season, shows that he still has a lot to give the game, if that’s what he decides to do.”
Through 35 games, Bryant averaged 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting a career-worst 37.3% from the field.
The early indication is that Bryant won’t retire yet. The team will give a time frame for his recovery after Wednesday’s procedure.
“If anyone can do it, he can,” Shaw said about Bryant’s ability to fight through yet another difficult injury.