Sports Out West

Kobe Bryant injury: Pro Sports’ class of ’96 provides inspiration for Lakers’ star

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In 1996, the sports world was blessed with four of the greatest athletes the sports world has ever seen.
 
Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Ray Lewis and recently-injured superstar Kobe Bryant are all sure-fire Hall of Famers and in their most recent seasons all of them have incurred injuries that appear to be career threatening. 
 
Ray Lewis set the stage by coming back from a torn biceps earlier than expected and helping the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII.  Rivera tore his ACL shagging fly balls like he always had to get ready for a game.  He was carted off the field and many feared that being over 40, his career was finished.  But there he was, on opening day, back in the New York Yankees’ bullpen, ready to be their closer again. 
 
Derek Jeter is still on the recovery trail.  He suffered a broken ankles in the playoffs and had a setback during training in rehab.  He is expected to return to the Yankees line-up soon. 
 
Now its Bryant turn.  He carried the Los Angeles Lakers all season and on Friday night his Achilles could no longer take the pressure.  At 34 years-old in his 17th NBA season there are major questions that now surround his future.  
 
He has battled injuries all season long and overcome the physical burdens of the NBA season.  There is no question that like the other sports giants of 1996, the Black Mamba will find a way to return.  He will not come back as a shell of himself.  Bryant will find a way to still be effective — all the great ones do.
 
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Keenan Actkins

Keenan Actkins is an Arizona resident living in the Phoenix metropolitan area. He brings a wealth of sports knowledge and passion to the team with his unique insight and strong voice and opinion. He also contributes to Yahoo! Voices and has written for WoodyPaige.com.

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