At risk of being overly dramatic, the Los Angeles Lakers lost their warrior on April 12. Kobe Bryant is down, lost to a devastating Achilles injury that may very well end any hope of success this season.
In addition, this type of injury could make it difficult for Bryant to ever return to elite status in the NBA. However, there is long road ahead before that is determined.
To continue the analogy, will the remaining fighters rally around their fallen leader and still storm the castle? Will Howard and company win one for the Black Mamba? Or will the team’s courage falter, causing them to turn and run for cover?
As outlined by Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report, Kobe is clearly frustrated. Who wouldn’t be? This team has certainly battled through their share of ups and downs this season. Just as it seemed like the Lakers would finally ice a playoff spot, this happens.
What is there to say in this situation? Is there any encouragement to offer even the great Kobe Bryant? Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be said.
People get hurt. It happens.
But wait, you say. This isn’t a normal human being. We are talking about Kobe Bryant. This is a guy who has battled through all sorts of nagging injuries and willed his way to a storied career. We are talking about a player with true warrior mentality. Yes, that is true.
The fact remains: basketball can be an unforgiving sport.
Basketball does not create the type of violence of a football field, a hockey rink or a Dodgers-Padres brawl. However, any doctor that has treated basketball-related injuries will tell you that the human body can only take so much.
Conway also asks a very pertinent question about whether Kobe’s minutes contributed to the injury. In a broader sense, there may certainly be a connection between minutes and this specific injury. However, we must again return to the cold, hard fact about life.
Bodies break sometimes.
As lamented by Kobe, why would this happen now? Why does his body fail when it hasn’t failed before? There is, unfortunately, no good answer to that question.
This injury could have happened at any time. Such is the nature of sports.
For the Lakers team, this will be an interesting time of self-assessment. There is little time left in the season, and perhaps fans will get to see what a Dwight Howard-led team really looks like. If the Lakers manage to make the playoffs, they will have a very different look.
The Lakers are in the driver’s seat with two games remaining. However, the outlook of the fans is likely to be bleak if Los Angeles enters the postseason without their star and warrior.
Kobe must now watch, encourage his teammates, and wonder what might have been. Obviously, his feelings are going to be strong and mixed:
The warrior is down, but he will return. Count on Kobe.