Not many people can relate what Kobe Bryant is going through — an elite NBA player who tears his Achilles and is going to attempt a comeback in his mid-30s.
Dominique Wilkins is one.
On a January night in 1992, a 32-year-old Wilkins (who was averaging 28.1 points and 7 rebounds a game that season) tore his Achilles and needed to have surgery. He missed the rest of that season.
He had advice for Kobe, speaking with the USA Today.
“That’s tough, man. That’s tough,” Wilkins told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday. “As you get older, you don’t heal as easily like we did when we were younger. Six months is quick. I will tell you that.
“It took me nine months to really get back to the form and the level that I once played. He’s got to be patient. That’s the biggest thing for me. He has to be patient.”
Wilkins bounced back — that next season he averaged 29.9 points a game, and while his efficiency dipped some he played in a couple more All-Star games and was still a force.
Wilkins said he could relate to what Kobe went to but he also thinks Kobe can bounce back.
“When I found out, when I tore mine, I was just depressed,” Wilkins said. “It’s the same thing Kobe said (on Friday night), ‘How can it happen to me? Why now? Why me? When I’m playing so well and the team has a chance to get in the playoffs and I tear my Achilles tendon?’ So once he gets over the frustration of this injury happening — go get surgery, and now you have to put together a plan for yourself to rehabilitate that injury….
“It’s going to be a process, because you’ve got to get the strength back, got to get that range of motion back, and you’ve got to feel comfortable walking normally with that injury,” Wilkins said. “It takes time. But there’s no doubt in my mind that once he re-focuses himself, gets over the frustration of having this injury, that he’s going to come back and be as good as ever.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.