Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol has backed friend and long-time teammate Kobe Bryant to bounce back from his latest injury nightmare.
Five-time NBA champion Bryant, who had only been back in the rotation for five games following an eight-month layoff due to a torn achilles sustained towards the end of last season, was ruled out for a further six weeks today after the Lakers organisation confirmed via their Twitter account that the iconic shooting guard had suffered a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee.
Kobe, who recently signed a two-year extension to remain with the league's most storied franchise, is likely to be understandably demoralised by this latest setback.
However Gasol, who first teamed up with the former 13th overall pick when he moved to Los Angeles from the Memphis Grizzlies back in 2008, evidently believes Bryant has the strength to come back from it.
"It’s very hard for me as a teammate, as his friend, to understand this happened to him. But what can you do?" he was quoted by ESPNLA's Ramona Shelburne.
"He’s tough enough. He’ll get through it and be back, and ready to play."
The Lakers, whose frontcourt options are dwindling by the day with Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar also sidelined with various ailments, face a daunting upcoming schedule beginning with Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday evening.
After that, they face Western Conference rivals the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns before a keenly-anticipated Christmas Day clash against LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and the reigning champion Miami Heat.