Seeing a hero like Kobe Bryant curled up on the basketball court having torn his Achilles tendon reminds basketball fans that the Lakers shooting guard is in fact human. Almost two months after Kobe sustained the injury against Golden State, and with rumors flying around Twitter about his retirement, the fourth leading scorer in NBA history has had his future and comeback questioned. Bryant played down the rumors on the 20th May by tweeting, “Really?? Me. Retire?? Soon, but not yet”. Is the 35 year old overestimating his abilities and underestimating the extent of his injury?
The Lakers stated that they expected Kobe to return in between 6 to 9 months’ time, with the latter seeming the more realistic of the two time frames. Although seen as a basketball deity, the fact that he has torn his Achilles tendon and will be turning 35 in August could mean that his last season in the NBA might be pushed back until 2014/15 as he probably won’t return and be fully fit for the majority of the 2013/14 season that was supposed to be his final season. Even if Kobe returned within 9 months, he would probably only appear in a couple of games and would also face the difficulty of not only the pain of recovery but psychologically, coming back and not being 100% on his game. A dip in form, fear of further injury or lack of match fitness may cause the early retirement of this stalwart of the NBA. T
here is no doubt that the ‘Black Mamba’ will make every effort to make a quick recovery and get back onto the basketball court pleasing Lakers fans who are currently set to be without their shooting guard for the majority of next season. The Lakers knew that they would have to plan for post-Bryant however; their plans might have to be brought forward with the prospect of an early retirement if things don’t go according to plan in the small amount of game time he is likely to get next season or if he is merely not the player he once was.
Only Kobe will know whether next year will be his last season and may call time on his playing career even if he does play a few games in the 2013/14 season. One thing is for sure: Kobe will want to go out on his terms, being remembered as the incredible basketball player that he is and not struggling through the whole of the 2014/15, as a shadow of his former self. When Kobe does call time on his career, whether that will be next season or the season after, it will only be a matter of time before he gets the call to receive the honors he deserves at the Basketball Hall of Fame.