It has been eight years since Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon on April 12th, 2013, during a game against the Golden St. Warriors. Before exiting the game for good, Bryant hit both free throws. After the game, Bryant spoke with the media.
“It felt like I got kicked,” said Bryant.
“I made a move that I make a million times, and it just popped.”
Bryant was later asked if the injury had to deal with all of the minutes that he had been playing leading up to the Achilles injury.
“Who knows,” he said.
Two days later, Bryant would go under the knife for surgery.
In a recent interview, former Lakers’ head trainer, Gary Vitt described what he saw that day.
“The telltale sign of Achilles tendon rupture is, I thought somebody kicked in the back of my leg and then I looked back, there was nobody. If an athlete tells you that, you can pretty much go to the bank…, said Vitt.
“Now, this is the Kobe Bryant, this is the Mamba. This is the experience that an athletic trainer, other than the one that’s working with the Mamba doesn’t get. He says to me, ‘Yeah I kinda thought that, so I try to reach back there and try to pull it down’. I don’t know if any athletic trainer has ever had a response like that from any other athlete… I said, well it doesn’t really work that way, let’s go back and check it out.”
On Tuesday afternoon, I spoke with former Lakers’ trainer, Marco Nunez, who was also on the staff when Bryant tore his Achilles. I asked him if Mike D’Antoni’s system was causes of Bryant’s back to back Achielles injuries and now Brooklyn Nets’ guard James Harden.
“No, not necessarily. The one thing about Achilles tendons ruptures is that no research or studies that say if you have this will cause this. You can have an athlete that has Achilles tendinitis, for example, AD or other players. Does that mean he or she will have a higher chance of rupturing an Achilles tendon? No, there are no studies that identify that, said Nunez.”
“You have athletes that have no Achilles tendon issues, and then all of a sudden boom, they rupture it. It is just the forces applied to a specific movement, and it goes right to the tendon. It is just like the perfect storm. The movement, the change of direction, and everything goes right into the tendon, and it pops. Now, does basketball players have wear and tear, which they call degeneration? Where it is a fetal tendon or the Achilles tendon, yes they do. Obviously, but here is the thing Kobe is Kobe. He is not a guy that you can tell that we are going to sit you for a day. He was a workhorse that is what he did because he loved playing basketball, and we had to protect Kobe from himself at times.”
Mike D’Antoni is now the assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets, and they are still running a form of his seven seconds or less system. Nets players have been in and out of the lineup with a variety of injuries. James Harden, who is out with a hamstring injury, Kevin Durant, and Spencer Dinwiddie with a partially torn ACL in his right knee.
The Brooklyn Nets were able to clutch a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, after beating the Toronto Raptors 116-103. The Nets are 42-20 after Tuesday night’s win on the road.