When you put an obstacle in front of Kobe Bryant you get the best of him.
Which is why he went from talk of retirement and his next challenge to playing a few more years once he ruptured his Achilles late last season — there was a new obstacle to overcome. He had to prove he could come back from this.
The normal timeline for recovery would have Kobe returning around Christmas at the earliest, but he is talking about the start of the season at the end of October. Speaking in China recently where he was on an annual Nike tour to sell shoes, Kobe put it this way as reported by NBA.com.
“The surgical procedure was different […] and because of that the recovery has been different,” Bryant said in the southern city of Shenzhen. “The normal timetable for recovery from an Achilles, we’ve shattered that. Three-and-a-half months I can already walk just fine, I’m lifting weights with the Achilles just fine and that’s different. So we don’t know what that timetable is going to be. It’s kind of new territory for us all.”’
The plan right now is to have Kobe evaluated at the end of August and the doctors will make recommendations from there.
On one hand, this is Kobe and we expect ridiculous recoveries from him. The man is like Monty Python’s Black Knight and will play through broken fingers and other pain. He has the work ethic and discipline to get back on the court as quickly as possible. This injury at this age has ended other players’ careers (Isiah Thomas), but Kobe will get back, even if at age 35 it is inevitable he will have lost a step. Kobe has talked to other athletes who have gone through this and bounced back, such as his friend (and Lakers fan) David Beckham.
But there needs to be caution here as well — setbacks are pretty common in this recovery and can be severe. Honestly, the opening back-to-back the Lakers have against the Clippers and Warriors to open the season is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. If Kobe is looking at the big picture he has to be willing to sacrifice those kinds of games to be good to go in January, February and on into the playoffs (if the Lakers can even make it).
The doctors will make call at the end of the month. No doubt Kobe will push through this as fast as humanly possible. He just can’t go faster than that.