Despite the fact that Bryant is ahead of schedule in his recovery and some are optimistic that he’ll be returning for opening night against the Los Angeles Clippers, others think the injury is too difficult to come back from at this stage of his career.
In an interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com, an anonymous Western Conference scout was optimistic and believes that Bryant will be back at an All-Star level:
“I would not be surprised for him to be back at an All-Star level. I don’t know if it’s going to be next season, it could be, but I could definitely see him being back as an All-Star because that’s just in his DNA.”
While Bryant will likely lose some athleticism from this injury, his smarts and experience will enable him to conquer this challenge, similarly to Michael Jordan:
“Kobe, to me, is going to thrive off of his smarts and his experiences. He’s always been one of those guys that’s just been like a sponge. I think that’s what separates him from the average player of even a very good player. I think this is just another challenge for him. He’s like Jordan in that way where he’ll almost make up motivation, make something to help him get motivated.”
Everyone understands the severity of an Achilles rupture at this stage of any athlete’s career, but those who are pessimistic about Bryant returning at a high-level fail to recognize his play style. Throughout his career, he has always found a way to be effective through injuries and illnesses.
His greatness doesn’t require speed and power, but comes from his skill-set and his ability to continually adapt under the circumstances. Those characteristics from his game won’t disappear because of an Achilles rupture, but will propel him to finish his career at a high-level.
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