After suffering a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee last week, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant does not seemed to be fazed by the latest setback but more focused on returning to court once he recovers from the injury, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“I think I feel more locked in now than I’ve been my entire career because of this,” Bryant said. “The spirits are fine, the focus is great. Just going to see what happens when I come back.”
Bryant suffered the left knee injury in the second half of the Dec.18 game on the road against the Memphis Grizzles and played the remainder of the game with the injury on the presumption that it was only a hyperextension of the knee. The injury occurred just 11 days after making his return just eight months removed from tearing his left Achilles tendon.
When he was asked on Wednesday prior to the team’s Christmas day game against the Miami Heat about whether the injury was a cause of him possibly coming back too soon, he quickly shot down any correlation between the two injuries.
“I don’t think one had anything to do with the other,” Bryant said Wednesday in his first media session since being diagnosed with the fracture last week. “We’ve evaluated it pretty extensively. The fact of the matter is any of us can get hurt at any moment and the key for us as an athlete is to block that fear out.”
In the six games prior to suffering the knee injury Bryant averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists on 42.5 percent shooting from the field, which he was encouraged by how his Achilles tendon responded to him playing in actual games.
“I learned that I can pretty much do everything that I could before, particularly the last game [against Memphis],” Bryant said. “The biggest part of my game, the last two to three years, has been getting to a space on the floor and being able to elevate and shoot pull-up jump shots and in the paint. It was a great test going up against Tony Allen, who in my opinion has been the guy that’s defended me the best since I’ve been in the league. So to go up against him on the fourth game in five nights, and respond to that challenge, felt pretty good.”
Although Bryant has suffered another setback, it is a positive sign to see that he is happy with the way his Achilles has responded to live-game action. Before he suffered the fracture in his left knee he was starting to show spurts of being some essence of the player he was prior to the injury as evident by how he played in the game against the Grizzles where he scored 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field to go with five rebounds and four assists.
Another telling sign that he was improving was his ability to be able to play over 30 minutes in each of the last three games before he suffered the knee injury. Although he was improving and suffered setback there are still detractors such as Charles Barkley, who believe Bryant should sit out the rest of the season and that it may be the beginning of the end for in regards to his playing days in the NBA. But, there are also players in the league such as LeBron James, who hold the belief that the 15-time All-star will both return this season and play at the high level he did prior to the injury.
It’s not as special when Kobe’s not out there. Let’s be honest,” James said after the Heat’s win. “I love coming out and going up against one of the best. One of the greatest competitors we have going in our game.”
“I’ve been hearing reports about people giving their stupid opinion about what he should do,” James added. “He’s not going to sit. That’s not him. That’s not in his nature. He’s an alpha male. He’s going to get healthy, and he’s going to play the game that he loves and has been playing forever.
“When he gets back, he’s going to play at a high level. With him, I don’t expect nothing less than greatness. Obviously, we all get older each and every year, but the caliber of player he is, he can go out and put up 20 every night if he wanted to.”
It may sound cliché to say it, but Bryant appears to be not human when it comes to injuries as evident through him playing through numerous injuries that would typically force a player to sit out for long periods of time. Pain and simple his pain threshold is not that of an average athlete or person as he can withstand much more pain.
This latest injury may be a step back for him but one thing is for certain: Kobe Bryant is determined to get back on the court as soon as he possible to prove to himself and everyone else that he can still play at a high level.
Photo Credit: Lakers.com