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Report: Lakers expect Kobe Bryant to miss rest of season

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 21: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a score during the second half of a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on January 21, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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All joking aside, Kobe Bryant’s shoulder injury is serious.

After just 36 games this season and only six last year, the 36-year-old Lakers star is done for the season.

At Kobe’s age, any injury of this magnitude could be career-ending. It’s a wonder the Lakers let him play all season with his shoulder bothering him, let alone with the heavy workload they gave him.

Kobe admitted he has considering retiring after this season. We’ll see whether this latest setback is the straw that breaks the camel’s back or whether it just strengthens Kobe’s resolve. He can be lovably stubborn, and I’m sure he doesn’t want to go out like this. But his body, chicken bone broth soup aside, might not give him any other choice – though the same speculation came following his last two major injuries.

If Kobe doesn’t return, he’ll finish in discussion for being the greatest Laker of all time and a certain Hall of Famer. He’s a five-time NBA champion and third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

For the Lakers, it’s time to do the forgivable and responsible thing and tank to keep the top-five-protected pick they owe the Suns. Kobe was the Lakers’ only draw. Now, there’s nothing left for them this season but to figure out just how bad they want to be.

Kobe was scheduled to start the All-Star game, so someone – likely James Harden – will replace him in the Western Conference’s lineup. This will also open a reserve spot, and there are no shortage of worthy candidates.