How Will Kobe’s Return Affect His Legacy?
Following the Achilles injury and now the knee fracture, Kobe is faced with a tough challenge to get back to the top of his game. At age 35-going-on-36, it’s going to be a tough and grueling road. He may never be the same player he was. He may not even be the same player he was just a year ago since he was able to perform at such a high level in his 17th season.
At the same time, you can’t count the Black Mamba out. Earlier this season, Kobe expressed uncertainty surrounding his return from the Achilles injury. He wasn’t sure what he’d be able to do, or not do. He acknowledged that he would have to alter his game, but was well prepared to do so with the elite skill-set he possesses.
However, perhaps a good sign and a stark change in contrast to that, is what he said in a recent interview after being ruled out for playing the remainder of this season. According to Lakers’ reporter Mike Trudell, Kobe believes he’ll be as good as ever:
Kobe on next year: “I don’t want to say I’ll be at the top of my game, people saying (I’m old or crazy). But that’s what it’s going to be.”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 12, 2014
Similarly, when asked about Kobe’s return back in November, Allen Iverson had no doubts about his old rival:
“Hell yeah he gon’ be Kobe, ’cause it’s in his heart. He’s a killer. If he can’t kill, then he’s not gonna do it. You don’t have to worry about Kobe Bryant (laughing). I mean, that killer is in him regardless. If he had to go out there and play in a wheelchair, he gon’ be the best player in a wheelchair that you ever seen. So, you don’t have to worry about Kobe. If he’s out there, then he’s ready to be out there and he’s gonna be Kobe Bryant.”
As of now, Kobe’s level of play upon return is still a big question mark. Even more concerning, perhaps, is how his body will hold up following the return. He’s had a remarkable 17 seasons where he was injury free, but the last two injuries have been a result of wear-and-tear, in a way. All those 17 seasons combined with numerous deep playoff runs have simply taken a toll on Vino’s body.
However, what he’s managed to accomplish in those 17 years has been absolutely remarkable. His legacy is already cemented in the world of basketball. He’ll easily walk into the Hall-of-Fame and be considered one of the greatest players to ever lace ’em up.
Essentially, Kobe is playing with house money right now. He obviously doesn’t see it that way, and is going to do everything he can to come back at an elite level and win ring number six.
Regardless, if he comes back and averages under 20 points per game and doesn’t ever win another ring, nobody will blame him. He lasted 17 years strong, put up incredible numbers throughout the majority of his career, and gave the Los Angeles Lakers five championships to be proud of. He entertained millions of fans across the globe, and played his heart out each and second he was on the court.
If he comes back as he says, however, and is even 80-90 percent of what he was last season and stay on the court, at age 36 and technically his 19th season (after virtually sitting out his 18th season), he’ll add just one more feat to his legacy. A player who was already once considered immortal before the recent injuries would once again rise to the occasion as he has so many times in the past.
Except this time, he’ll be rising from the ashes like a Phoenix and further adding to the legend that is Kobe Bryant.
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