Kobe Bryant has undergone surgery on an injured Achilles tendon and could be sidelined for up to nine months, the Los Angeles Lakers said on Saturday.
Bryant, the fourth leading scorer in NBA history, sustained the injury late in the Lakers' win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday.
The Lakers announced the surgery had been a success but said in a statement he would be out for a "minimum of six to nine months".
Bryant will miss any playoff action for the Lakers, if they can hang on to the final berth in the Western Conference, and could well be ruled out for a chunk of next season.
The 34-year-old was quick to dismiss talk of his career being under threat, however.
"Really, are you kidding?" he responded to reporters in the locker room. "Obviously there's a bunch of players that have had this same injury, so I know I can do this.
"All I can do is what they've done, who had more success getting back quicker and healthier, and see what they did and see if I can improve upon it."
The Lakers have recovered from a poor start to the season to push themselves into playoff contention but their chances of making an impact will be sorely hurt by the loss of their leading player.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, said the injury was the most disappointing moment he has had in his career.
"By far. We worked so hard to put ourselves in a position where we control our own fate," he said. "It is just terrible. Terrible feeling".
The injury occurred in fairly innocuous fashion as he went to pass Warriors wing Harrison Barnes, driving to his left before slumping to the floor.
Bryant initially stayed on court, limping to the free throw line and standing on one leg to score two free throws before he headed to the locker-room for treatment.
Photograph: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images