Kobe’s pain tolerance was off the charts. The guy could endure much more than your regular human being – both physically and psychologically. Every top-tier athlete can. But it was different with Kobe; it bordered on insanity with no. 24.
Remember Kobe dislocating his finger, and his athletic trainer throwing a towel over it, yanking it back and getting Bean back on the floor? Or his shoulder popping out and his trainer fixing it right on the spot? Stuff like that would’ve presented a challenge for guys to even get back to the locker room and have a proper treatment. For Bryant, those were just minor setbacks that were dealt with within minutes.
But there was a time when even Kobe stood no chance. That infamous April 12, 2013, when Bryant made the move he had made a thousand times before. He pushed off his left foot, trying to drive around Golden State Warriors‘ Harrison Barnes. Kobe felt a pop and was about to embark on one of the biggest challenges of his NBA career – recovering from Achilles tendon as a 34-year old.
Now, we’ve seen dozens of NBA players tear their Achilles, and the aftermath is always the same. You see them hugging in excruciating pain before they’re taken off the court. At that time, basketball becomes a side issue. Something that doesn’t even cross their minds. And who can blame them – it may be the worst thing you can experience as an athlete.
But this is Kobe we’re talking about. He still kept his focus on basketball, as he didn’t let the strings of the game slip out of his hands. He walked it off, just enough to hit two one-legged free throws before heading to the locker room. But something else happened on his way there—something on a whole other level.
The last play he tore his Achilles – every other player in the league, you’d had your teammates carrying you off. He not only gets up and makes two free throws, but goes over to the bench and asks ‘Could you pull it and tape it down so I can finish the game?‘Tim Grover, GQ Sports
Mamba wanted to stay on the floor! The guy couldn’t walk but wanted to play. He had enough sense not to push such an agenda, but just showing a desire to stay in the game in such a condition is jaw-dropping.
If there was a time to challenge Kobe, it was that time. And thankfully, he listened. It gave as few more seasons of NBA’s legend. Kobe was never the same playing-wise, but he kept the same mentality during his final run in the league. We’ve seen its ultimate manifestation in Bryant’s farewell game when Mamba dropped 60 on the Jazz and led the Lakers to a win for the last time. Something he had done countless times over his all-time great 20-year career.