2008, Game 6 of the NBA finals held a special place in Kobe Bryant’s heart. They lost in a lopsided victory in the hands of the Boston Celtics. Losing always made him stronger and better. If not for his 2008 heartache, he wouldn’t have won his fifth title in 2010. For two years, Kobe watched that video tape over and over again. It was an added fire and inspiration to get back to the NBA finals, especially when they faced their former tormentor, and won the championship.
However, this 2013 is totally different from what it was five years ago. A ruptured Achilles tendon seemed to be a deeper and bigger mountain to climb for a 35 year old athlete like Kobe. Injuring an Achilles is always a challenge to all those mid-thirty athletes trying to get back to their old form. So far the chances are slim. A lot have tried, and a lot just contemplated retirement. It was something even Kobe can’t control. An arthritic knuckle on his right index finger, or tendinitis on his knees, Bryant continues to play with pain. But rupturing an Achilles is way different.
With Kobe down on the floor, as he forced his body to stand up, the crowd chanted “MVP,MVP”… Bryant, holding his tears, shoots his two free throws, then struggled walking on the way to the Lakers’ bench. A lesser player could have buckled down and carried out with a stretcher. But not Kobe… if he goes down, he goes down punching.
There is no definite time table for Kobe to go back. Everything must be done in the right way. Every now and then Kobe calls Chauncey Billups, who last season injured his Achilles and now plays with the Detroit Pistons. Kobe was asking Chauncey some advices in how to deal with the rehab. Everything seems to be new to him – a new challenge with so much little time left.
Kobe will be back. The Lakers this season will be lucky to be in the playoffs with Steve Nash and Pau Gasol still nursing some injuries. There is nothing to prove when the odds are against you. Even if he goes back to form, it won’t be a guarantee if they can secure a playoff spot. But you can’t tell that to Kobe.
The Black Mamba comes back with a different challenge – fighting off an Achilles injury and getting the Lakers to the playoffs. He will never back down on any challenge… not now and not ever.
It looks like the Mamba’s last dance will have to wait. He doesn’t care how high the mountain he has to climb, the fact that it can be climb, Kobe will be pushing.