Edited by: Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)
If you only focused on the box score and the conference standings, then the Los Angeles Lakers win on Friday night over the Golden State Warriors looked pretty good to you. The win put the Lakers in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West (for now) and gave them a one game cushion in front of the Utah Jazz. Only problem is that in the final minutes of Friday’s game, the leading Laker, Kobe Bryant, tore the Achilles tendon in his left foot abruptly ending his season and taking him away from the game for the next 6-9 months. When the season started, the Lakers were supposed to be title contenders after signing Steve Nash and trading for Dwight Howard in the offseason. Putting those two around one of the best in Kobe Bryant was supposed to be the missing piece to the puzzle, but that wasn’t the case. The Lakers started off the season as bad as you can get and even fired their head coach in Mike Brown (thank god). They went out and hired Mike Dantoni to get the Lakers back on track, and that wasn’t working either. Los Angeles continued to struggle and then their notorious leader stepped up in a big way. Bryant always carried the team on the court and figured it was his role to get the other players at the same level. Publicly criticizing Dwight Howard constantly over a period of weeks finally lit a fire under Howard and the Lakers and they went on a tear. A team that looked as if the playoffs would’ve been a dream this season, suddenly has found themselves in the hunt. The Lakers were even looking like a team that may even upset a few teams in the playoffs, but all of that hard work, fighting back and hope died on Friday night.
The Lakers were beginning to be fun to watch again, but without their fearless leader in Bryant, their championship and playoff admiration's quickly went down the drain. If the Lakers can still find a way to make the playoffs and shock the NBA with a few upsets, that would be a pretty special achievement, but it won’t be easy. Kobe Bryant has been the heart and sole of the Los Angeles Lakers for quite some time, and the main reason that they are back in the playoff hunt is because of Kobe. He may have helped the rest of his team along, but there is no question that the Black Mamba continued to put the Lakers on his back in an attempt to carry them to the promise land. All of that hard work was essentially for nothing, and now Kobe will be rehabbing until October or November to be ready to go for next season. I have no question in my mind that the fight in the dog of Kobe will do whatever it takes to be ready for next season, but will the body of a seasoned 16-year veteran allow a recovery as quick as he would like or at all? Most athletes are able to recover from a torn Achilles and still perform at the top of their game, but it isn’t easy. The thing that has people in question is that Kobe is 34 and what has his 16 years of playing done to the recovery rate of his body. Not only could this torn Achilles end his season, but could end his career just as easy. If he starts to have complications in the recovery and he takes much longer to come back to the game than expected, we may never see the same Kobe Bryant again. I personally don’t know Kobe Bryant (if you want to change that, dinner is on me Kobe), but if there were anybody that I couldn’t imagine not being at the top of his game, it would have to be him. If this injury hurts his game and production in anyway, don’t be surprised if you see him retire from the game of basketball.
I may have not always been a Laker fan, but I have always respected Kobe Bryant. A guy that goes out every night and gives his team everything he has, plus he has 5 NBA Championship rings, which is pretty freaking impressive. This injury has ended the 2013 season for Mr. Bryant, but in terms of possibly ending his career, the Black Mamba won’t go down without a fight.