Kobe Bryant: Orthopaedic Surgeon Discusses Star’s Achilles Tendon, Knee Injuries

In a one-on-one interview with David Geier, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, Dr. Geier and sports journalist Daniel Lewis discuss Kobe Bryant’s Achilles tendon and knee injuries, and his attempt to recover and return to the court at age 36.

It was April 12, 2013—the Los Angeles Lakers were playing the Golden State Warriors in L.A.’s third-to-last game of the season. With a playoff berth hanging in the balance, Kobe Bryant had played the entire game, despite having hyperextended his left knee early in the third quarter.

Only three minutes in the fourth quarter remained when Bryant made a seemingly routine move, pushing off his left foot in an attempt to drive around the tightly defending Harrison Barnes. At that moment, Bryant felt a pop before crumpling to the ground, and the referee called a foul.

Grabbing the back of his left ankle as he grimaced, he knew he had torn his Achilles tendon.

“I was just hoping it wasn’t what I knew it was,” Bryant said, per Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. “I tried to walk it off hoping that the sensation would come back but no such luck.”

Kobe limped back to hit his two free throws before heading off to the locker room and an offseason of rehabilitation. L.A. ended up holding on to win 118-116. Propped up on crutches after the game, Bryant was visibly emotional, knowing he faced a tall mountain to climb.

I was really tired, man. I was just tired in the locker room. Upset and dejected and thinking about this mountain I have to overcome. This is a long process. I wasn’t sure I could do it. But then the kids walked in here, and I had to set an example. ‘Daddy’s going to be fine. I’m going to do it.’ I’m going to work hard and go from there.

Kobe returned for a mere glimpse during the 2013-2014 season before suffering a season-ending knee in...

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