In the fourth quarter, when the franchise season’s last three games mattered, Kobe Bryant stepped up. Playing all the minutes on their last two games, Kobe keep pushing hard and had gone too far until his body broke down. After making a hard cut to the basket, Bryant collapsed to the floor while clutching his heel.
He had a torn Achilles tendon, as the Lakers won the bitter sweet victory.
Seventeen years in the NBA, and there is no player who have such dedication and value to his craft. One shot, two shots… until he reaches a thousand, until his hands get tired of shooting. Kobe spends more time in the gym – he wants the challenge… he wants it all.
This couldn’t be it… a fairy tale journey should end with a “happy ever after”. He had worked so hard to get to this point and retirement was never an option. It was not even on Kobe’s vocabulary.
As every minute dropped, and as the clock ticked, his time is coming to an end. He refused to accept the reality coming, played every minute and forced his body until his Achilles couldn’t take it anymore. He was so obsessed about getting his team to the playoffs that it slowly consumed him. Mike D’ Antoni could only watched as Kobe refused to rest and took every blow and every ounce of pounds his body-weight put up on his heel.
The run towards Michael Jordan’s greatness is becoming a light that slowly lost its flicker. Our Jordan memory was the game winning shot against Bryon Russell in the 1998 NBA finals. And if ever we saw the last of Kobe, it would be this injury, when Kobe stood up amidst all the pain and shot two pressure pack free-throws while limping towards the bench.
The typical Kobe Bryant – even in times of pain and discomfort he still thinks about winning.
Nobody at age 35 ever came back from a torn Achilles heel and dominated in the NBA. Not even one who won a championship. But you can’t say that to Kobe… He will never quit, not now, not ever…
This has become a curse, an addiction… and nobody can make him stop.
Six NBA championships before calling it quits, Kobe will go down swinging and trying.
The mamba will always come back.