One move he swore he performed a million times soon led Kobe Bryant into an uncertain future.

Bryant drove past a defender at the top of the key before losing his footing. Although he stood up moments later and made two free throws, Bryant then hobbled off the court.

In the trainer's room, Bryant then heard he had a torn left Achilles tendon that would require surgery and keep him out the rest of the season.

"This is another challenge in your life," Lakers trainer Gary Vitti recalled saying to Bryant. "The game of basketball comes too easy for you. You need these things."

Bryant had surgery Saturday at Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Group, a procedure performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. Stephen Lombardo. The Lakers expect

Bryant to stay sidelined for at least six to nine months. And Vitti estimated Bryant will remain immobilized for at least a month.

As Bryant begins this recovery process in hopes to return before the 2013-14 season in the final year of his $30.5 million contract, an informal sampling of outside medical experts suggests that path seems unclear. At least not as definitive as when Bryant stepped on the court this season and averaged a team-leading 27.3 points on 46.3 percent shooting, third best in the NBA.