LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant will miss the remainder of the NBA season because of a nagging left knee injury, the team announced Wednesday.
The 35-year-old, who inspired the Lakers to five NBA titles from 2000 to 2010 and the United States capture Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, has been recovering from a left knee fracture.
"Obviously this has been a frustrating and disappointing season, but I appreciate all the support I've received from the Lakers and the fans and look forward to being back and ready for the start of training camp," Bryant said.
After Bryant was examined Wednesday by team physician Steve Lombardo, the doctor decided that Bryant's injury has not healed, making it easy for the Lakers to let him rest till next season.
"With Kobe's injury still not healed, the amount of time he would need to rehab and be ready to play, and the amount of time remaining in the season, we've simply run out of time for him to return," said trainer Gary Vitti.
"However, Kobe will have the entire off-season to heal, rehab and prepare and we look forward to him being 100 per cent for the start of next season." Bryant returned earlier this season from an Achilles tendon tear after 7 1/2 months of rehabilitation and played only six games before being sidelined in mid-December with the fractured left knee, which at first it was thought would see him miss only six weeks.
Despite the injury, Bryant was voted into the NBA All-Star Game by fans, but he was unable to play in last month's elite showdown of top talent.