There are many people out there who doubt whether Kobe Bryant will ever be able to come back from this Achilles injury and play at the same level that he used to.
However, as usual, Bryant is paying no attention to the doubters.
The Black Mamba told Marc J. Spears from Yahoo! Sports that he thinks he can come back from this injury and be just as good as before – if not better:
[pullquote]Q: Your naysayers don’t expect you to come back the same because of your Achilles injury. What should we expect when you return?
Bryant: “Personally? I’m going to be the way I’ve always been. Maybe a little better. It’s always interesting, it’s motivating to hear people doubt me. The same guys put the nail in my coffin six years ago. They’re still trying.”[/pullquote]
Can Kobe really be a better player after Achilles surgery? It would seem unlikely, though some of Kobe’s best games have come when he’s played while injured. This is usually because he has to really think about the game and rely more heavily on his basketball IQ as opposed to his athleticism. Could he do the same coming off an Achilles injury?
Bryant also assured Spears that his competitive nature won’t push him to come back from the injury too early:
[pullquote]Q: How do you find a good medium between your competitiveness and also being cautious in rehabbing?
Bryant: “It’s all in the same bucket. I’m really competitive. To come back at anything less than to play exceptional basketball is not really smart, then I’m not going to be at my top level and that makes the critics right. That [stuff] isn’t going to happen.”[/pullquote]
As for those wondering if Kobe’s Twitter avatar of “1225” secretly stands for his return date, Bryant assured Spears that he has absolutely no idea when he will be ready to play again:
[pullquote]Q: Would it be safe to say you’ll be back by December?
Bryant: “Dude, I don’t know. I don’t give a [expletive] what people believe. When I’m ready, I will play.”[/pullquote]
It really sounds like Kobe will take his time and then some to return from this injury, and that’s exactly the way it should be.
At 35-years-old, Kobe knows he can’t rush back and risk hurting himself again. He even told Spears that it’ll like take him around two to three weeks to just get through enough on-court practices before he can make a return.
Kobe wants to be on top of his game when he comes back. Who knows where the Lakers will be by then, but this whole thing isn’t just about this season; Bryant still wants to play for a few more years and he won’t want to jeopardize the end of his playing days by coming back too soon from this extremely serious injury.