Three years, three straight season-ending injuries for the Black Mamba. It appears that the beginning of the end is indeed before us. The latest wound to Kobe Bryant’s plans on fighting father time comes in the form of a torn rotator cuff.
After weighing his options over the weekend, Bryant has decided to have season-ending surgery on Wednesday to repair the tear in his shoulder. He suffered this during the game last week against the New Orleans Pelicans on a dunk attempt.
The story emanating from this latest news is heartbreaking when it’s all put into perspective. Kobe Bryant, now in his 19th season, battled nagging injuries his entire career. In pursuit of a resume that would eventually be untouchable, Bryant defied all odds and seemingly played through any and every injury.
Wear and tear did plague him over the course of his professional tenure, but in the grand scheme of things, he fought this battle relentlessly and was unscathed. Marching his way to five NBA championships and a plethora of other notable accolades, Bryant experienced success that only one could dream of.
But then he suffered a catastrophic injury that wouldn’t be fixed by just tightening up his laces, wearing knee braces or wrapping bandages tighter and willing himself to play. On a move to the basket, he suffered an Achilles rupture, and even then, he trooped right up to the free-throw line and sunk a pair.
But now, he seems to be fighting a battle no one has ever won. His body is breaking down and he’s getting closer to retirement as the days go by. And it’s tough to watch because he can still put up remarkable numbers and hasn’t really shown a glaring sign of slowing down.
Sure he can’t log the minutes he used to or display the mind-boggling athleticism he once did, but when given the basketball, this man knows just what to do.
The Lakers head coach, Bryon Scott, concocted a plan that would help prolong his star player’s career. He was resting the 17-time All-Star in an attempt to preserve his body for future season. The thought came up of maybe sitting Bryant for the rest of the season once March came around. Now, they won’t have to wait that long to make that decision.
The tough part for Kobe is that he endured a change of heart on the basketball floor and tailored his game to fit this new style of play. For his entire career, he was a dominant scorer. Now, he wanted to become more of a willing passer, who trusted his teammates to score the basketball.
If Kobe wants to comeback and experience success–and have a chance at another championship–it would behoove him to maintain this mindset. The days of him dominating games for 48 minutes are over because he simply can’t fight those aches and pains like he used to.
Who would’ve thought that the 1997 dunk contest winner – a rookie from Philly – would injure himself performing a regular two-handed slam? Well, when you’re 36, these things are plausible. For his sake, hopefully he can come back for one last ride.
Kobe Bryant ends his season as the NBA’s all-time third leading scorer. He also finishes the year averaging 22.3 points, 5.6 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game.