Again, I am compelled to write about Kobe Bryant. His season, and inspiringly, maniacal push to put the Lakers in the playoffs ended just outside the lane when his achilles snapped on a drive to the basket against Golden St. Friday night. My reaction to his injury is revealing on several levels.
First, I felt an immediate and profound sense of disbelief. This couldn’t happen to Kobe and not during his heroic run of play. It wasn’t fair, but life isn’t fair, or for that matter very often fun. With this injury, the inherent unfairness of life invaded my refuge of sport…..nothing is sacred.
Second, I felt a tinge of guilt. I had just written of Kobe, and it reminded me of my post on the San Antonio Spurs last season. I praised the Spurs for a twenty game win streak that finished the regular season, and carried them to a 2-0 advantage over the Thunder. The Thunder immediately ran the Spurs off the floor and out of the playoffs. Perhaps in both instances, I was to blame.
Finally, I considered Kobe’s indomitable will. He shot and made two free throws AFTER the injury, in a game that would be decided by two points, and then walked off the court unassisted. The pain threshold, pride and sense of duty to team and game in that moment was extraordinary.
Ultimately, it is why I have written about him as often as I have. He is one of the athletes of this generation that through their greatness and competitive character give these games a greater meaning and extol transcendent lessons of perseverance and success.
I have no doubt he will play again.