Written By: Benjamin Steinhorn
July 31, 2015
We all know how it started. Its 1996 and David's Stern's voice is booming over the speakers "With the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft the Charlotte Hornets select Kobe Bryant out of Lower Merion High School!" With those words said a legacy was born. Shortly after Kobe was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and was destined for a future of greatness. Within the first 6 years of being in the NBA he had won three championships being accompanied by one of the greatest big men in history Shaquille O'Neal. But even the greatest players fall from grace at one point or another. In 2003 Kobe was accused of sexual assault in Colorado, which tarnished his reputation for a while even though the case was dropped in 2004. Then on January 22nd 2006, the basketball gods shined upon Kobe Bryant as he went on to score the second most points in a single NBA game. Scoring 81 points in 42 minutes against the Toronto Raptors Kobe Bryant was instantly strung from the rafters in the halls of glory. In mid-2008 Pal Gasol was traded to the Lakers and is said to have looked like a title contending team before the season even started. Bryant wins MVP that year but they lose to Boston in six in the NBA Finals. In 2009 Kobe wins his 4th NBA title and is named Finals MVP as they beat the Orlando Magic in five games. In 2010 Bryant Collects his 5th ring as Lakers beat the Celtics in seven games, he is also named Finals MVP. Later that year signs a 3 year 84 million dollars extension through the 2013-2014 season.
But as a legend that had played for 19 years at a superstar level, something was bound to happen. In the 2012-2013 season Kobe ruptured his left Achilles tendon leaving him out indefinitely for the rest of the season. Not only was this a huge blow to the Lakers for losing their best player but also a huge blow to the NBA as a whole. Not being able to watch Kobe every night was a tough pill for people to swallow. Even for me having seen his last away game before rupturing his Achilles in Portland where he dropped 41 in a 20 point win, it was tough because he was my favorite player of all time and it was hard to not be able to watch him every game. After a very surprising 6 month recovery for an injury that would normally take a year, Kobe returns to the NBA only to fracture his lateral tibial plateau (knee) only 6 games into the 2013-2014 "comeback season". "You hate it for Kobe," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's worked so hard to get back". Kobe is recovering from this injury still and is determined to come back stronger than ever and give the NBA everything he has left in him.
Kobe then comes back to the NBA for the 2015 season as eager fans cling to their screens to watch one of the greatest Lakers ever go back work night in and night out. Then in mid-January as if things couldn't get any worse, Kobe suffers his third straight season-ending injury with a torn right rotator cuff. Doctors say it will need at least 9 months to fully heal. If everything goes to plan, he should be back right before the start of the 2015-2016 season. Hopefully this is true and that we will see a new and improved Kobe coming into the season and see him win that ever so elusive 6th ring.
"I think that the biggest thing with Kobe, as long as the media are saying that he's done, he's going to come back. I think he proved his point this year that he still has a lot left in the tank. He's still one the of the best players in the league." (Coach Byron Scott) That's thing that separates Kobe from the pack. His desire to win and succeed is unlike any modern player we have seen. When Kobe ruptured his Achilles he still walked back onto the court and shot two free throws before walking back off the court ON HIS OWN. The amount of courage and strength that takes in unfathomable to the normal person. Kobe Bryant has put every ounce of his heart and soul into the game that he loves and he will never leave it until he absolutely has to. No matter what kind of injury it is, he puts all he has into healing it so that he can go out in front of all those fans and bring back the Kobe of old. A future prediction from me, Kobe won't retire until he physically can't run anymore.