The achilles tendon is a vital part to normal daily activities. It is one of the longer tendons in the body that stretches from the heel all the way to the calf muscles. It allows you to extend your foot and do something as simple as point your toes to the floor.
Pop. That is all it takes and suddenly your whole leg gives out and shock begins to set in. This is what happened to one of the greatest basketball players ever late Friday night.
Kobe Bryant ruptured his achilles tendon in a fight to keep the Los Angeles Lakers’ playoff hopes alive against the Golden State Warriors.
“I made a move that I make a million times and it just popped,” Bryant said after the game. He asked Harrison Barnes, who was guarding him, if he kicked him and when he found out he didn’t he instantly knew it was bad.
“I was just hoping it wasn’t what I knew it was,” Bryant said. “Just trying to walk it off, hoping that the sensation would come back, but no such luck.”
What was more amazing about the whole situation was that Bryant went to the free throw line and made both free throws to put the Lakers, who went on to win the game, ahead of the Warriors.
Many things have been said about Bryant, but nobody can argue his will and desire to achieve greatness.
Achilles injuries have ended the career of many great players in NBA history. Names such as Charles Barkley, Isiah Thomas and Shaquille O’Neal. Chauncey Billups recently suffered the injury and battled back to play again.
Much speculation has risen that Bryant couldn’t possibly recover and play again. Never count him out, because the five-time NBA champion has a will that trumps a lot of the league.
Bryant isn’t done. He will come back to prove all the doubters wrong and go out on his terms. Players don’t want to end their career on somebody else’s terms.
Bryant will once again go against conventional wisdom and return to the hardwood for one last crack at matching Michael Jordan’s ring collection.
“I’ve never really had to deal with something like this,” Bryant said. “It’s a new experience for me. Obviously, there’s been a bunch of players that have had the same injury, so all I can do is look at them and what they’ve done and who had more success coming back quicker and healthier and see what they did and see if I can improve upon it.”
Six to nine months is average for dealing with this severe injury. If anyone can defy and push those limits, it is Bryant. Don’t rule out this superstar.
Who really thought he could pull the Lakers together and have them in contention for the playoffs after the start to their season? He pulled that off.
The NBA needs Kobe to finish on his own terms, and he will.
Zack Wheeler is a writer for the Arkansas Traveler. His column appears every Tuesday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.