According to ESPN, Kobe Bryant underwent surgery to "repair" his "torn Achilles tendon." Kobe is expected to be sidelined for at least six months. Therefore, he will miss the rest of the season even if the Los Angeles Lakers manages to make it to the playoffs.
This freak injury put an end to Kobe's season prematurely. Before this injury, Kobe has been single-handedly keeping the Lakers in contention for the playoffs since many of the other top players on the team are struggling with injuries. Although Kobe is in his mid-thirties, he played heavy minutes all season long in order to help the Lakers reach the playoffs. Despite playing all these minutes, Kobe continues to play at a high level. In fact, a strong case could be made that Kobe, 34, has been one of the most dominant players in the league this season. In spite of his continued dominance, Kobe has too often failed to receive the recognition of being the leading player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) following the retirement of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls.
Kobe entered the NBA in 1996, two years before Jordan retired from the Bulls. Since Jordan left the Bulls, Kobe has compiled the most impressive record in the NBA. For instance, Kobe is a perennial all-star; he made the All-NBA first team ten times and the All-NBA defensive team nine times. More importantly, Kobe won five NBA championships. Equally important, Kobe is the most clutch player-someone who could make the last shot when the game is on the line- currently playing in the league.
Notwithstanding this impressive record, Kobe has still not been given the recognition that he deserves. In fact, many people have had an odd response to Kobe's sustained excellence. As a result, they came to expect Kobe to excel on the basketball court; yet they did not fully credit him for those exploits. They would, therefore, not be surprised no matter what he does in a game or the record that he amasses in a season or over his career.
This lack of recognition could be seen in two major ways. Although Kobe has dominated every facet of the game and won many championships, he tends to be overshadowed by LeBron James. In fact, in the eyes of many commentators, LeBron has already eclipsed Kobe. Yes, LeBron is an incredible player and an outstanding athlete. The facts remain though that Kobe not only is a spectacular player in his own right, but he is one of the great champions that the NBA has ever known. There is no doubt that LeBron is climbing his way to the pinnacle of the sports. Before his career is over, it is highly likely that LeBron will be regarded as one of the very best players that have ever played the game. However, he still has a long way to go before he could match or surpass Kobe's tremendous accomplishments.
Despite being a dominant force in the league for more than a decade, Kobe only earned one Most Valuable Player Award. Many of his contemporaries such as Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and LeBron James won multiple MVPs. Undoubtedly, they are terrific players. Still, it begs the question: Have those players been more dominant than Kobe in the past decade or so? Kobe's remarkable achievements speak for themselves.
Although Kobe will turn 35 this year, he has been in the league for almost 20 years. He remains indispensable to the Lakers because he continues to play at a very high level. Before he sustained the injury that ended his season precipitately, Kobe was already hurt. Yet, he still managed to put the Lakers in a position where they could win a spot in the playoffs. During his drive to keep the Lakers' hope for the playoffs alive, Kobe was being Kobe. A player with a will to win that surpasses that of any other player who currently plays in the league, In this regard, Kobe's indomitable will parallels that of the greatest player that ever plays the game. In fact, in the post Jordan era, Kobe should be regarded as the most dominant player because no other player has so dominated the game and won so many championships. Therefore, even if Kobe never plays another game, he has already done enough in his career to be considered as one of the very best players that have stepped on the basketball court.