Last season Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers were embarrassed in the NBA playoffs after getting swept by the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks in the second round. This domination of the Lakers in this series with the Mavs was a real wakeup call for Kobe as he realized that his career in the NBA might be coming to an end quicker than anticipated due to an arthritic knee.
The weakened knee hindered Kobe’s game so much so that he could barely move the same way on the floor. Fortunately, there was a remedy overseas for his knee problem with Kobe undergoing a new procedure in Germany. The procedure was more successful than anyone believed it would be, with Kobe turning back the clock this season and becoming the dominant scorer of old once again.
After scoring a game-high 38 points on Tuesday in the win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2, Kobe spoke about his knee problems and the uncertainty surrounding his future in the NBA via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
“I wondered how I was ever going to play basketball again.”
His arthritic knee had gone bone on bone, making every step an excruciating exercise. Bryant felt like the end was creeping closer. He couldn’t practice and couldn’t move with authority on the floor. “There were a lot of thoughts, a lot of self-evaluating going on, wondering, how can I ever be effective again? How am I going to play despite this knee? I couldn’t move. It was just so painful. There was nothing I could do.
“But now I feel brand new, man.”
Everyone knew that Kobe wasn’t the same player last year and the end was near. The explosiveness was gone and father time had seemingly caught up with him. Now that doesn’t seem to be the case with Kobe playing at an extremely high level once again and having the Lakers in prime position to make yet another run at an NBA title.