We all thought the worst when Kobe Bryant fell to the Staples Center court last season. Kobe fell to the floor on a drive against the Golden State Warriors and clutched his knee. The fear was confirmed when an MRI showed Kobe tore his ACL ligament with a move Kobe says he’s done ‘millions of times’ before. With recovery from the surgery way ahead of schedule, it’s Kobe’s drive to win that’s speeding up his recovery.
“The tendon feels really, really good,” the Los Angeles Lakers superstar told USA Today. “The trainers go with me everywhere. Family vacations, business trips — they’re there all the time.” And when Kobe makes his return, it’ll be the start to his 18th season. Kobe who is 35 has hinted that this may be his last season.
If it truly is, I feel the injury may hasten the decision. But if Kobe produces like he has the past five seasons, it’s entirely possible that he could go on and play another. The miles may be adding up but his production has stayed at a steady level for the last six seasons now while his 27 points per game are the most since Bryant’s 2008 season, a tally he should easily reach with Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard gone.
But it’s his return from surgery and return to the court that will be the biggest hurdle Kobe has faced in his career. Which is saying a lot because Kobe has been involved in a lot of hurdles, winning his first championship, deflecting talk of comparisons to LeBron James and Michael Jordan, his infidelities. This is something Kobe has never faced before and he seems to be handling it like only Kobe can, by dominating recovery and ‘shattering the timetable’ for an injury like this as he says.
Though Bryant would tell you that he doesn’t care about the records, only rings, Kobe could break records this year. With his 2,100 points last year, another season like that would put him past Micheal Jordan on the all-time scoring list. Kobe would need at least two more seasons at that rate to catch Kareem Abdul-Jabaar for the No. 1 spot. Something that seems less attainable at this point.
At the end of the day, Kobe is arguably the greatest Laker ever to suit up. It would be a shame if we only saw one more season out of Kobe but really, how many more can this guy play?