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.
“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.