When you think of basketballs greats, there’s no denying that Kobe Bryant has established his place in the history books. Being in the league for almost two decades, Bryant continues to break records season after season. Just to name a few, Kobe is the youngest player to score 32,000 points, he has scored the most points in Laker history and has the most All-NBA total selections.
The 2015-2016 season marks Bryant’s final year on his contract, making many wonder if he will end his prestigious career or continue to play for a few more seasons. Bryant himself has not yet made a final decision; he claims that it is a choice he will not be able to make until after the season. The road has been tough for Bryant lately. His past three seasons have left him on the sideline with season-ending injuries “starting with his April 2013 torn Achilles’ tendon, followed by a fractured knee in December. Bryant was shut down in January of 2015 with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, an injury from which he’s still working to recover,” (1).
Although Kobe’s shoulder had been an issue since preseason, during that January matchup versus the New Orleans Pelicans he aggravated it enough to be pulled from the game and scheduled an MRI. As we know now, he has had shoulder surgery to repair the tear, but what exactly is the extent of coming back from an injury like this?
The game of basketball requires total body control. From the demands on the lower extremities from the constant movement and changes in direction, to the stress on the upper body from shooting and other physical demands, injury is prevalent. Tearing a rotator cuff can come from an acute injury, over use or simply age. Kobe’s injury might have stemmed from a little bit of everything. “The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder,” (2). It ultimately holds your arm in place and allows it to move in different directions.
A tear to the rotator cuff makes basic functions painful. The continual rubbing of the tear under the clavicle bone is what causes the pain, weakness and reduced range of motion. Once movement becomes constricted due to pain, that’s when the muscles in the surrounding area starts to diminish and more problems can occur. Kobe took the initiative to get surgery immediately after injury to prepare for his 20th season.
Tearing the rotator cuff is an injury that typically takes 9 months to recover from. Despite the media unsure if he will be back to full health for season, leave it to the NBA’s most determined player to come back even better. “The goals of treatment for a torn rotator cuff are to treat any underlying tendonitis, restore normal shoulder mobility (that may have been lost due to pain/irritation), maximize function of the remaining rotator cuff muscles, recover any lost strength, and improve overall biomechanics of the shoulder complex,” (3). Unfortunately, this isn’t Kobe’s first major injury, so he knows the effort of rehabilitation for complete, successful recovery.
In recent press releases, Kobe has spoke highly of his team making the post season despite their below average year from the season prior. He has been through major injury and isn’t ready to stop, even rumored to potentially aid the United States National Basketball team to try and bring home gold in the Rio Sumer Olympics. With NBA preseason around the corner, lets all watch Kobe achieve greatness despite all of his setbacks. As Kobe would say, “You’re Welcome”.