Best and Worst: History Dares to Challenge Kobe’s Achilles

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers Looking Behind

There has been a lot of news regarding Kobe Bryant’s Achilles and his progress this past week. Since the injury on April 12 against the Golden State Warriors, we’ve all heard about the best and worst outcomes from this major injury.

In China, Bryant recently told thousands of fans that he’s “shattered” the normal recovery time and is already able to walk and lift weights. However, a June study from the American Journal of Sports Medicine titled “Performance Outcomes After Repair of Complete Achilles Tendon Ruptures in National Basketball Association Players” isn’t so optimistic.

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The study concluded that only 44 percent of players were able to play longer than one season after their injury. Unfortunately, those who did play past a season saw a drastic decline in their performance:

“A complete rupture of the Achilles tendon and subsequent surgical repair, although rare, seriously affects the career of an NBA player. Of the 18 players identified over 23 seasons, only 44 percent were able to return to play for longer than one season after their surgical repair. Those who did return to play did not perform as well as their control-matched peers.”

It’s good information to keep in mind, but after watching Kobe Bryant these past seventeen seasons, it’s very difficult to imagine that he’s going to allow himself to be part of that statistic.  We’ve all heard why Bryant won’t be able to return at a high-level, but very few are discussing how he’ll be able to finish his career on a high note.

There’s a reason why Kobe is still standing tall while his rivals — Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Dwyane Wade — have fallen. All these players have had their moments with spectacular dunks and clutch performances, but Bryant has been willing to take the road less traveled. Much like Michael Jordan, Kobe’s greatness has come from making necessary adjustments to his game that has allowed him to have sustained success.

Throughout the years, Bryant has played through injuries that most players in the league would sit out for weeks. What separates Kobe from all these players is his unique ability to simplify his game depending on the type of injury. As a result, he’s actually had some of the best performances of his career even when dealing with injuries. In those games, it’s pretty clear that not only is Kobe still effective, but he’s still one of the best players in the league as well.

It seems like history is against Bryant, but what has he done throughout his career that would garner such skepticism? Kobe admitted that he might not be able to run as fast or jump as high when he returns, but his skill set will allow him to play at a high-level for the remainder of his career.

There’s no debate about the severity of this injury and how it’s impacted other athletes, but history also shows that Kobe Bryant will find a way to succeed, and his true greatness will shine more than ever.


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