On Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers made a surprising announcement. Fewer than 24 hours after pulling Gasol from the trade block, the Lakers announced that Kobe Bryant would be off the hardwood for six weeks due to a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. Apparently, it hurts much less than it sounds or Bryant has some of the most powerful painkillers on the black market pumping through his system. He brushed the injury off, after suffering it against the Memphis Grizzlies, like it were a paper cut or a pin prick. Bryant bounced back up after seemingly banging knees with Tony Allen, and kept playing.

It doesn't appear the injury was related to his recovery from a torn achilles in the same leg, because this was a bone fracture. However, it could portend a critical intersection in Bryant's career.  He appeared to be adjusted to the speed and flow of the game before fracturing his kneecap and even kept playing in what was ultimately his best performance of the season.

Bryant finally appeared to be turning the corner despite playing more minutes than was expected from him in his first two weeks back, running the offense as an emergency point guard due to a variety of injuries to Laker guards Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake and Steve Nash.

Ultimately, all this injury does in the big picture is improve the Lakers' eventual allotment of ping pong balls in the Draft lottery, push back the date he expects to pass Michael Jordan for third on the all-time scoring list, and likely prevents Bryant (the Wester Conference's second-leading All-Star vote-getter) from participating in Black Super Bowl weekend's festivities. His timetable for recovery would bring him back two weeks before the game. But he's not risking further injury for an All-Star exhibition.