Throughout his illustrious career, Kobe Bryant has developed an almost superhero-like reputation for his ability to play through injuries.
Whether it was a sprain, strain, break, or dislocation, Bryant rarely missed any sort of significant time. Even more, he would continue to play at a high level despite his numerous ailments.
It was because of this that when Kobe suddenly hit the floor in obvious pain on April 12, 2013, most people felt that it wouldn’t be too serious. He even gutted through the pain to knock down two free throws before he limped off the court. Most felt that Kobe would be back to being himself in only a matter of time.
Obviously we now know that wouldn’t be the case, and once Kobe did return, he lasted only six games before suffering another injury and being lost for the rest of this season.
Nonetheless, the sight of Kobe Bryant in pain on the floor last year is one that will be etched in the minds of every Lakers fan. So we asked our experts where they were when Kobe tore his Achilles one year ago, and their feelings when he went down. These are their memories:
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Thankfully, I didn’t see Kobe Bryant go down with the torn Achilles in person or on the tube. I was in the middle of a discussion with my roommate over something that completely took a backseat to Kobe’s injury once I saw the endless tweets talking about it possibly being the end of the five-time NBA champion’s career.
Once I finally saw the injury, I knew it was serious and not something he’d simply bounce back like he’d always been able to. Kobe was human. A hero of mine was down and I honestly didn’t know how to deal with it.
Perhaps the toughest part about witnessing Kobe’s devastating injury was the post-game interview. Kobe was still in his jersey and leaning heavy on his crutches.
It was clear that Kobe was emotional and fighting back tears while thinking about the immediate future. Although motivated by the challenge, it was clear, for the first time, that he may no longer be able to perform at an elite level and thoughts ran through his mind so fast that it simply couldn’t sink in.
Needless to say, I was also bombarded with thoughts of the NBA without Kobe Bryant. It brought me back to the final days of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls and how I felt about that. It was a tough concept to consider, but Kobe’s injury made it all seem very real that the end was drawing near sooner than anticipated.
Hopefully, Kobe will surprise us all once again with a triumphant return to the floor for one last run at a title. The future Hall of Famer will be going up against all odds with the toughest challenge of his career ahead of him.
Kevin Chan (@kevin_cruiser): I was watching the game from home and I remember Kobe got banged up a couple times before the Achilles injury. Earlier he had bumped his left knee and tweaked his right ankle, but he managed to bounce back from both of those.
So when he went down a third time, I didn’t think he really hurt himself that badly — it looked like he had just slipped and fell down. Initially I thought he just hurt his ankle, but afterwards when I heard the news and saw Kobe’s post-game press conference the reality of the injury began to sink in.
I felt terrible to see him so defeated because I had never seen him react like that after an injury. Kobe had a knack for playing through injuries throughout his career, but this one was different. Little did we know then, but this injury is the most significant of Kobe’s career.
I was hopeful that he’d be back eventually, but knew that it would be a long road to recovery for him. Next year, I’m sure we’ll see a revitalized Kobe who will be eager to show the world that he’s still got game.
I’m hopeful that Kobe will be able to go out healthy and strong for the last two years of his contract. Knowing the warrior that Kobe is, hell will freeze over before he allows an injury to define the twilight of his illustrious career.
Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015): As a lifelong Lakers fan, being able to vividly remember any significant Lakers or Kobe moments in history typically evokes pleasant memories of championships and game-winning shots.
That changed on April 12, 2013.
I was watching the fateful game at home, glued to my TV as the Lakers were playing another important game for their playoff positioning. When Kobe went down I immediately thought to myself, “that’s his Achilles.” Throughout his career, Kobe had always gotten up from pretty much any injury but this one was clearly different.
Kobe had already managed to bounce back up from being down earlier in the game and the fact that he couldn’t this time around was an early indication this was more serious.
Kobe’s entire career then began to flash before my eyes as he limped off the court. Here was the player I grew up watching, who has always been able to overcome injury, conceding defeat. It was all very surreal and almost as though the end came before it was supposed to.
There are at least five to 10 moments in Lakers history where I can tell you exactly where I was when they happened and for better or for worse, Kobe’s injury that night climbed to the top of the list.
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