Expect to see Kobe Bryant back on court sometime next year.
That's the good news from the doctor who performed Saturday's surgery on the Los Angeles Lakers superstar. But Dr. Neal ElAttrache, cautioned there are numerous pitfalls that could change that scenario.
ElAttrache, who performed the hour-long surgery to repair Bryant's rupture Achilles' tendon, told the Los Angeles Times that Bryant's competitive drive and mental toughness will give him an edge in recovering from the injury suffered on Thursday night. ElAttrache estimates Bryant could be sidelined for six to nine months.
"I can point to all of the scientific aspects of the repair, but just as important if not more important is, who is that Achilles attached to?" ElAttrache told the Times. "In this situation, it's attached to Kobe Bryant, who has figured out a way to get through some injuries that would ordinarily be career-threatening. Some of the things he's had go on with him have ended guys' careers.
ElAttrache was the surgeon who repaired New England quarterback Tom Brady's knee in 2008. He compared injuries to elite athletes such as Bryant and Brady and their reactions.
"These elite athletes go through an initial period of anger, and usually that's pretty quick," he told the Times. "They don't dwell on (the injury) that long. Then they get resolved to, what's my best way to get back? Once that switch flips, they do not want to waste any time. At that point, they want it done now. Rarely will you see anybody delay.
"They're already into comeback mode. Kobe was very typical for that."
While ElAttrache did not go into detail about specifics of Bryant's injury, he did say it was a Grade 3 rupture -- the type he has seen and fixed hundreds of times.
He did emphasize that the first few months of recovery could determine how quickly Bryant heals, stressing the importance of Bryant not being overly aggressive in rehabbing.
"Some things you can't speed up. The biology of the healing tendon is paramount for the first three months. If you try to exceed that and you hurt that healing tendon and stretch it out, it's not something that you can reverse."