The NBA: Kobe Goes Down

Kobe Bryant knew that something serious was wrong with his left foot/ankle.
Nothing confirmed yet but even Kobe felt that he tore his Achilles tendon.
(Image from: Bleacher Report)
I am not a Kobe Bryant fan BUT I respect and admire everything he brings to the game of basketball. His talent, skill, determination, will, passion, etc etc. have made the game more exciting, more watchable and very entertaining. He is truly among the greats and arguably the 2nd-best shooting guard of all-time after Michael Jordan.

At age 34, Kobe was doing everything he can to bring the LA Lakers into the playoffs. He was averaging over 45 minutes while scoring 30 points with 7 rebounds and 8 assists in his last 6 games. The Lakers went 5-1 during that stretch and now they control their own destiny with 2 games left. The Lakers will have to win their last 2 games without the Black Mamba and if they make the playoffs, they will have to compete without their best player...

Bryant hurt himself in the final 3 minutes of their game vs the Warriors. He played the whole game before going down with an injury. He was on the floor for a few minutes before going to the bench during a timeout. He went out again just to shoot two free-throws which he both made to give the Lakers a 2-point lead. Bryant had to be taken out right after since he could not plant and put weight on his injured foot. The most probable cause of the injury: a torn Achilles tendon which effectively ends his season.

The Lakers went on to win the game by 2 but they lost a MUCH bigger piece. A piece that cannot be replaced, ever. Realistically, if the Lakers make the playoffs, they have a small chance of beating the #1 seed in the West (Thunder or Spurs) even with Kobe playing. Without him, I dont think they can even win a game in the postseason.

So, how did the injury happen? Kobe was already hurt a couple of times during the game with knee injuries. Should the coach have rested him during that time? Do we blame the coach for playing Kobe so many minutes without any rest? Or was it simply a freak injury? Or could it be a result of all the games and minutes that Kobe has played throughout his 17-year career? I believe it is a combination of all that. Plus, bad timing and bad luck.

Bryant's injury normally takes 8-12 months to recover. A similar injury occurred to Chauncey Billups last year and he has not been the same player after. In fact, he has not fully recovered. How does Kobe's injury affect the future of the Lakers? If Kobe misses a year, the Lakers could be out of the playoffs next season and be barely competitive. Dwight Howard may not re-sign with the Lakers this summer knowing that the Lakers are weakened by the injury and probably cant survive in the West.

On the other hand, Howard could sign with the Lakers since it will be technically his team and all the shots (and responsibilities) will belong to him with Bryant on the sidelines. A scenario/idea is to have the Lakers amnesty Kobe and his 30 million salary to add pieces (shooters) to surround Howard for next year. This would force Kobe to miss the whole 2013-14 season. Bryant and the Lakers can negotiate for a cheaper contract for 2014-15 if Kobe wishes to resume playing.

I am sure that Kobe will come back from this injury regardless of how long it takes him to feel ready and healthy. I know he will only play for the Lakers. If there is a silver lining to his injury, maybe all the forced rest that he will get for missing a year would allow him to prolong his career by another 5 years? Will that be worth it then? Only time will tell. Good luck to Kobe and may he come back stronger.
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