The pop may have only been felt by Kobe Bryant, but every Laker fan has felt the aftermath. It is a future of uncertainty. A future that may not include one of the greatest players ever. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Bryant tore ligaments in his index finger on his shooting hand in 2010, and he should have missed the bulk of the season because of it. But he opted not to have surgery and he played through the pain as he led the Lakers to their second consecutive championship. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Bryant wore a protective mask after breaking his nose in the 2012 All-Star game. He was supposed to miss time with concussion like symptoms, but he did not miss any games. Photo by Jeff Lewis
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
In Greek mythology, Achilles was the greatest warrior and a hero of the Trojan War. He is the central character of Homer’s Iliad as he defeated Hector outside of the gates of Troy, cementing his legacy as the greatest warrior of his era. Entire armies trembled at the thought of him being on the battlefield.
As great as Achilles was, he had one weakness. His body was invulnerable, except for his heel. As a young child, to make him immortal he was dipped into the Styx River, but he was held by his heels, making him vulnerable in that area.
During the final battle of the Trojan War, Achilles was shot with an arrow in his heel, which led to his death. Because of this, the tendon that leads from the calf to the heel is known as the Achilles’ tendon, and it is known as a point of weakness.
Fast forward thousands of years, and an entirely different arena, and Kobe Bryant has been the greatest warrior on the basketball court during his generation. He has been known as the baddest man on the planet when it comes to basketball, and he has been called an assassin on many occasions. The man has the drive and determination to annihilate anybody in his way of glory.
One of Bryant’s greatest traits has been his ability to play through injuries. His tolerance of pain has been incredible, as injuries that would sideline just about any player for long periods of time does not keep Bryant off of the court for long, if at all.
Bryant has never had an injury that wiped out a large chunk of a season, or stopped him from his quest of winning a championship. But like Achilles, one point of weakness may have finally undermined Bryant’s great abilities. He has torn his Achilles’ tendon, and there goes the final nail in the Lakers coffin as they built a team that was supposed to win a championship.
This season was pretty much a wrap well before the All-Star break, but with Bryant’s injury, any hope of storming into the playoffs and shocking the NBA has flown out of the window.
The questions are not about this season anymore, but looking forward to next year and beyond. Can Bryant come back for the start of the regular season? Or will he be out until the midseason? Will the Lakers make the dreaded decision of using the amnesty clause on Bryant?
At this point it is all unknown. But one thing is for sure, Bryant will do everything in his power to make it back on the court for the first game of the season. He has defied the odds when it has come to injuries his entire career, so the drive to come back will be there. But Bryant is mortal. He will put in the work, but coming back at age 35, with that type of injury, will be extremely tough.
Word from the Lakers front office is that they have not even considered using the amnesty clause on Bryant. If they did, it would save them a considerable amount of money against the salary cap, a reported $80 million, mostly because they will be heavily penalized for being over it. But if they head into next season with Bryant not being a member of the franchise, how are they going to be able to sell anybody on the idea of coming to see a Lakers team at Staples Center that does not feature Bryant. With their new TV deal, how are they going to meet the ratings expectations if they cut one of the most famous athletes in the world?
Not only do they have to worry about Bryant’s situation, are they going to be able to re-sign Dwight Howard? One question floated around is if they will even want to re-sign him if he does not prove himself to be a super star player during the short period without Bryant.
This season has been a major disappointment across the board, from head coaching issues to a roster where the pieces do not seem to fit to injuries. At this point, next season may look even worse if Bryant and Howard are not suiting up for this team when the Lakers tip off the season.
A photo has been floating around social media sites that shows how other star players have reacted to injuries.