Kobe Bryant’s Achilles Injury: Why It Happened and What We Can Learn

Kobe Bryant’s Achilles Injury Age

In the summer of 2013, Kobe Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon during a game against the Houston Rockets. At first it seemed like he had been playing through pain all season long.

However, after surgery, doctors discovered that there were no tears in his muscle or tendons. They found only one small tear in the tendon itself which caused him to suffer from severe pain throughout his leg and ankle.

The injury occurred during the second quarter of the game. During the play, Kobe fell awkwardly while trying to dunk over two defenders.

His left foot came down on his right heel causing him to fall backwards and straight into his own head. He immediately went down on one knee and then another before eventually collapsing onto the court with his teammates looking at him in disbelief.

After the initial shock wore off, Kobe sat on the bench and remained motionless. After several minutes of silence, he stood up slowly and walked out of the arena.

He was taken to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery to repair his Achilles tendon.

At first, doctors thought that he would need six months to recover from such an injury but after three weeks they decided that he could return to basketball activities within 2-3 months. He spent the next two months rehabbing before returning to play in January of 2014.

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Since then he continues to struggle with pain in his Achilles tendon. He has even been seen wearing ankle supports and padding under his shoes.

A recent scan of his leg showed that there is still damage in the tendons and muscles around the affected area. Nevertheless, he continues to push through the pain and play at a level that most thought he would never achieve again.

Why Did Kobe’s Achilles Tendon Rupture?

Many people have asked the question: why did an injury like this happen to an athlete at the height of his career? Was it just a random fluke accident?

While nobody can be sure, one thing is certain, Achilles tendon ruptures are almost always caused by sudden acceleration or deceleration of the foot. In other words, the foot can’t move too fast or too slow. If an athlete pushes off hard then there is a good chance that the tendon could tear. However, it is less likely to occur if an athlete slows down gradually. Instead, it is more likely to tear while coming to an abrupt stop.

The other cause of this type of injury is jumping or landing off balance. This causes a great deal of stress on the tendon causing it to tear away from the bone.

Of course this would all be null and void if an athlete was just getting old and his body was falling apart. But since most professional athletes are in the prime of their life, their age is usually on their side and they have the ability to heal faster than most people.

Does Kobe’s Injury Mean He’s Done?

The injury itself will not necessarily mean that he is finished as an athlete. It all comes down to how his rehab progresses in the coming months. While he is most likely able to run and jump again, he will not return to peak form for at least another year. It is common for professional athletes to have a “problems” long after they have recovered from an injury. However, the great ones always find a way to battle through it even if they aren’t quite as good as they once were.

Kobe has already defied all odds by returning to the Lakers not once but twice from two potentially career-ending injuries. He is more determined than ever to return to the top of the basketball world and prove to everyone that his best years are not behind him.

While some might agree, many others believe it’s time for him to hang up his shoes and call it a career. After all, a ruptured Achilles tendon is one of the worst injuries that an athlete can suffer.

Only time will tell if Kobe can return to his All-Star self. However, one thing is for certain and that’s the fact that he will go down in history as one of the greatest Lakers of all time and will always be remembered for his undying determination and competitive spirit.

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Additional Resources

Kobe Bryant's Achilles Injury: Why It Happened and What We Can Learn - Picture

Achilles Tendon Rupture at eMedicine

Achilles Tendon Rupture at MedlinePlus

Achilles Tendon Rupture at Wikipedia

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What it Takes to Recover From an Achilles Injury by S Be – academia.edu

Clearing A Professional Athlete For Play: What We Can Learn From The Kevin Durant Injury by D Richie Jr, DPMF FAAPSM – podiatrytoday.com

Sever’s Disease: The Pain of Adolescent Growth Spurts by RH Brophy

Everything you need to know about your injury by J Goodes – breakingmuscle.com

Facial fractures and the National Basketball Association: epidemiology and outcomes by R GUIDES, MYP JOURNEY – understandphysio.com

Dear Basketball (PS I love you): A QUALITATIVE INVESTIGATION OF KOBE BRYANT’S SPORT CAREER TERMINATION AND RETIREMENT FROM THE NBA … by PP Salehi, A Heiser, SJ Torabi, B Azizzadeh… – The …, 2020 – Wiley Online Library

Berlin 2016: The 5th International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport by CK Harrison, SM Lawrence, SJ Bukstein, K Carr… – observatoriobizkaiabasket.com

Leaderboard Ad Testing Why Are Achilles Tendon Injuries So Common in Athletes? by A Haddad