Over the weekend, social media was abuzz to the sad news that the upcoming basketball playoff season would be missing #24… Kobe Bryant. In a very sad day of Basketball, Kobe Bryant received news that no star player wants to hear especially in his mid 30’s…he had ruptured his Achilles. To the average spectator of the Lakers vs Warriors game, the injury didn’t look too bad considering that Bryant got up, shot two free throws, and eventually limped off the court.
It all started in the 4th quarter with 3:08 minutes remaining. Bryant had played every minute of the game up to that point, scoring 32 points including a back to back 3 to tie the game with less than 4 minutes remaining. That’s when things took a turn for the worst, when Kobe, in his own words “made a move that he’s made a million times…and it just popped”. Bryant was not aware that a major injury had occurred and attempted to walk it off hoping the sensation would reappear…even asking Warriors’ Harrison Barnes if he had kicked him in the leg…hoping that’s all it was. When Barnes responded that he didn’t, Kobe then knew what had occurred. Following a timeout, Bryant went back into the game and hit both of his free throw attempts with the injury to end his night with 34 points, five rebounds and four assists before heading to the locker room.
Talks have now focused on the future of Kobe Bryant especially with him being out for the rest of the season. With the loss of such a high level player who averages more points than most players in their prime (over 25 points a game) and the star player who carries his team on his back…it’s no wonder his hall of fame is now in question.
NBA players have returned from Achilles injuries in the past, with Dominique Wilkins, Elton Brand, and Chauncey Billups as its most recent notable examples, but none of these players returned to anywhere near their pre-injury level. Isaiah Thomas for example, at around the same age as Bryant, retired due to an Achilles tear. So is this the end of Kobe Bryant? I highly doubt it..this is infact Kobe Bryant we are talking about…the man who gave Los Angeles Laker fans something to lean on and who confidently quipped in his facebook rant posted that same night ““One day, the beginning of a new career journey will commence. Today is NOT that day.“If you see me in a fight with a bear, prey for the bear”. Ive always loved that quote. Thats “mamba mentality” we don’t quit, we don’t cower, we don’t run. We endure and conquer.”