Lakers and basketball fans have seen Kobe Bryant miraculously play through injuries at a high-level throughout his career. In fact, Kobe is considered one of, if not the, toughest players in the league by the vast majority. Therefore, it was an odd and eerie experience to watch him go down on April 12, 2013 against the Golden State Warriors.
It has been the norm for years now to see Kobe pop right back up and play despite any injury. This is exactly what Warriors head coach Mark Jackson was thinking when Kobe tore his Achilles while trying to drive on Harrison Barnes in a close battle, which is something Jackson now regrets (per Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports).
“Even in the midst of going against him I’m in huddle I’m saying, ‘Don’t fall for the okeydoke. He’s all right. Don’t allow him to take over this game,’ not knowing that he was really hurt,” Jackson said. “That’s one regret I have. If had to do it again I would have called a timeout and allowed him to walk off the floor.”
In Jackson’s defense, after watching Kobe deal with injuries, fans are accustomed to see him brush it off and continue. While he did return to knock down two crucial free throws, Bryant had to succumb to the Achilles rupture, but still somehow managed to walk off the court on his own power.
“If I would’ve known Kobe Bryant was hurt I would’ve called a timeout,” Jackson said. “They would have not had to call a timeout. That’s how much respect I have for him.”
Jackson spoke to Bryant about his regret while the Lakers and Warriors faced each other in China during the preseason:
“I thought it was important to let him know that,” Jackson said. “Typical Kobe. He said thank you, appreciate it and he’s coming at us next time he sees us. But I feel the same way. It’s mutual respect and appreciation for one of the best to do it.”
While Kobe continues to progress in his recovery process, a return date is not known as of yet. He is in the stage of pushing his Achilles to see how it will react, but has not returned to basketball-related activities yet, which would be the last stage.
Jackson and his Warriors beat the Lakers in dominating fashion on Wednesday night 125-94 in the Lakers’ second game of the regular season.
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