My heart sank a little today. Not because of the inexplicable deaths of thousands of birds and fish. Not because it’s another snow storm in NYC and the cable company LOVES to mess up League Pass when it snows (although my heart did flutter a little), but because I know the end is near.
This season marks the decline of Kobe as we all know it.
We’ve all heard the stories of Kobe agonizing over game tape- of himself and other legends- studying to improve his game while most were out partying. We’ve heard the rumors of Kobe getting in his teammates’ faces, challenging them to make them better. We all know that Kobe is known to be the first one in the gym and the last one out.
(If you don’t know, I implore you to grab some popcorn and check out a few of his highlights. (Please don’t choke on your popcorn)
Kobe has had various injuries for years now, and being 15 years in, it’s understandable. He’s one of the hardest working players on and off the court, and tries to make it happen the entire time he’s on the floor. That’s what makes him an INTERNATIONAL powerhouse.
They love him in Africa…
…the list keeps going. His gear (jerseys, sneakers, etc.) sells very well internationally every year.
All of that is besides the point though.
When Kobe plays, he just brings an extra energy to the game. Even if you’re not a fan of Kobe, you should like to see him play because you know when he’s on the floor, there’s no telling what he’ll do. He has a no nonsense, by any means necessary, ‘you know you can’t guard me, right?‘ approach to the game that truly makes the game competitive. Then there’s the smirk.
Plus, Kobe has played hurt before. In the 2008-2009 season, he had to fight to play when his index finger was hanging on by a vein (and he had to re-learn how to shoot the ball), but we all know what happened that year…
However, this is different. If you noticed the change in the Lakers’ chemistry, I think it’s fair enough to say it’s Kobe’s fault. In an interview with Peter Vecsey of the NY Post, he admitted that he hasn’t practiced all season because he has “very little cartilage under my right knee cap, it’s almost bone on bone.”
Sadly, this isn’t the first time he’s had problems with this knee. He’s already had 3 surgeries, one this past off season and he had it drained a number of times during last season’s playoffs. That means he was literally walking off the court and on to an operating table and STILL managed to win a chip.
“Until I got it drained the first time during the opening round against the Thunder I could not bend that knee at all,” Kobe revealed. “It was swollen as hell and it hurt like hell. Luckily things got a lot better once I had the procedure.”
So, what does this all mean for the highest paid athlete in the game?
The end is near. Kobe can only hold up for so long. His heart, determination and passion for the game will soon be surpassed by his pain and physical inability to keep up with the young legs in the game.
I can’t even imagine the game being the same without his presence. The funny thing is, the Lakers can lose every single regular season game by 40 but everyone in the league STILL knows that they have to lace up and be ready to fight an uphill battle in the post season. They know that because as long as Kobe can run and jump, he’s a problem.
It’ll be a sad day when he has to walk away. I can’t be too mad though. At least I can say I was able to watch one of the greatest of all time in action.
No worries Kobe. There’s no doubt that your kicks will hang along with the greatest athletes of all time.