Bryant had surgery Saturday, and Lakers trainer Gary Vitti thinks he'll need six to nine months to recover. Given his history of swift recoveries, both Vitti and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak think the 34-year-old guard could be back for their season opener in the fall.
After the surgery, Bryant's wife Vanessa posted a photo on her Instagram account of Bryant on crutches, wearing a thick boot on his left leg. Despite it all, both Bryant and his wife are shown smiling broadly in the photo.
Before heading into the operating room, Bryant shared photos with his fans on his Instagram account - the photos show Bryant receiving an MRI and on a gurney wearing a hospital gown and cap prior to surgery.
Bryant completely tore his Achilles during Friday night's win against Golden State. He said he heard something pop during a move he's done a million times. He said he felt like he was kicked, but Golden State never touched him.
Many are speculating the injury would not have happened if Bryant hadn't played so many minutes. It's an accusation that Vitti says is hogwash.
But the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history has logged heavy minutes all season on his high-mileage legs, basically dictating his own playing time while the Lakers chased a playoff spot. He has played far more minutes than any other NBA player over 30, including nearly 46 minutes per game in the seven games leading up to Friday night.
Bryant took to social media to vent about his injury. He said on his Facebook page that his "frustration is unbearable."
"Why the hell did this happen ?!?" Bryant wrote. "Makes no damn sense. Now I'm supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that- "
He added: "Maybe this is how my book ends. Maybe Father Time has defeated me...Then again maybe not!"
While fans are disappointed he won't be playing anytime soon, they are supporting him.
"You gave your heart and soul to our team and we love you, so you get better," said one fan.
"Oh, he's Kobe. He'll be back. He's got a few more years in him. He'll be good," said another fan.
The Lakers will face off against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center Sunday at 6:30 p.m. It will be their first game without Bryant.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.