Kobe Bryant Day: Remembering Kobe’s Achilles Game


After a long and storied 20 year run with the Los Angeles Lakers, the city of LA honors Kobe with a well deserved, “Kobe Bryant Day”

I’ll never forget the date, April 12, 2013, the 80th game of the regular season. The Lakers were hosting the Golden State Warriors, though not the same team we know them as today, still a formidable team.

After loading their roster with multi-year All Star Dwight Howard and 2-time MVP Steve Nash the previous summer, the Lakers were expected to make a deep run into the playoffs. However, the season that followed was nearly the exact opposite. The Purple and Gold ended up in a situation at the end of the season in which they basically needed to win out just to make the playoffs.

During the last ten games or so, Kobe logged very heavy minutes each game. With all the injuries the team had suffered during the season, they relied on him more heavily than ever before.

The Lakers entered game 80 with a record of 42-37 and after playing the full 48 minutes two nights prior versus the Portland Trailblazers, and 42 minutes the game before that, Kobe surprisingly didn’t really seem that fatigued. In fact, during the last two weeks or so before the injury, it could be argued that Bryant was a dark horse MVP candidate.

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What stood out the most before the initial injury, was the amount of hard fouls and falls Kobe seemed to endure throughout the game. At around the ten minute mark in the 3rd quarter, Kobe drove to the basket and came down awkwardly on his knee. He stayed on the ground for a full minute.

Similarly, at around the six minute mark, another drive to the paint resulted in a bad landing and caused Kobe to limp all the way to the other end of the court. I remember having a bad feeling that if he continued at this pace without rest, something bad would happen. Unfortunately, I was correct.

Then it happened. With 3:10 left in the 4th quarter, Kobe attempted to drive past forward Harrison Barnes. Upon planting his left foot, Kobe crumpled to the floor in a heap. I recall thinking that Barnes had fouled Kobe, and that Bryant would take a minute to collect himself, get up, and keep playing like he had done so many times in his career. But that wasn’t the case. Bryant had been severely injured and was about to have a defining career moment, whether he knew it or not.

Kobe later revealed that when the injury happened, he initially asked Barnes if he had stepped on his foot. In truth, Bryant knew exactly what had happened, but was trying to avoid the reality of the situation, that he had torn his Achilles tendon in his left foot.

Then in a feat that still blows my mind to this day, Bryant rose from the floor and walked to the bench under his own power, then gingerly walked to the free throw line after the timeout, again under his own will, to shoot the free throws resulting from the foul.

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With visible tears in his eyes and a torn Achilles, Kobe preceded to calmly net the two most important free throws of the game. After all, the Lakers were still battling for a playoff spot in a down to the wire game against the Warriors. Although we didn’t know the extent of the injury at the time, it was obvious that Kobe was done for that night. The two free throws he hit helped the Lakers win the game and eventually clinch a spot in the playoffs.

What Kobe did that night went beyond just hitting two free throws. Taking into account all the work he had done that season just to keep the competitive was astounding. He could’ve complained, mentally checked out, or given up on the season. But Bryant proved that you shouldn’t let anything stand in your way of achieving your goals. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live because of what it signifies to me.

Through his actions that night, Kobe taught the masses to never to give up, no matter how bad a situation is. His free throws showed that if you want something bad enough, you shouldn’t let anything stand in your way.

Doctors have stated that Kobe’s ability to walk the distance of the court and hit two free throws goes beyond modern medical theory. Considering that most patients with Achilles tears can’t even stand up after that injury makes it all the more amazing. The common cliche of “giving something all you’ve got” is a phrase that gets overused and worn out but in this aspect, Kobe truly gave the Lakers, and the city of Los Angeles everything he had.

Next: Lakers Officially Re-Sign Center Tarik Black

So on this Inaugural Kobe Bryant Day on August 24, 2016, I, as well as fans all over the world would just like to say one last #ThankYouKobe.