Kobe Bryant’s Evolution Will Be on Full Display in Return from Achilles Injury

When you become as old as Kobe Bryant, there are a lot of memory lanes.

And if you find yourself strolling down literally the same street as you did before, you might regret a little and reminisce a lot. Or you could do something different right there based on all you’ve learned and create an entirely new memory—ideally a better one.

Guess which kind of person Bryant is.

For as awe-inspiring as he can be, more than revelation he is revolution. He wants more; he wants better. And for as determined as he is to fight for that cause, even more than revolution he is evolution.

The crux of Bryant’s career has been self-improvement, which is kind of funny considering what a stubborn jackass he can be.

One of his personal Nike T-shirts reads: “HALF SKILL, HALF WILL.” And whatever his DNA advantages coming into this, for Bryant there is a basic cycle of life wherein you try, you learn, you evolve and you become better than someone else.

Far too many don’t even make it through Step 1.

That philosophy feeds Bryant’s confidence that he can always accomplish the unexpected, including what he now hopes will be a prolific comeback from this ruptured Achilles tendon. Bryant is set to test himself in practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with a possible debut Friday night in Sacramento almost eight months after going down but getting up momentarily to sink those two free throws.

The free throws were classic Kobe: taking a moment and owning it in his special way, rewriting the story so that he has an effort—and victory—to savor and not just that painful memory of crumpling to the floor.

What is not so well understood is that Bryant has indeed changed over the years. Mellowed in a lot of ways. He engages people far better now, whether in person or via social media, and he understands that drama can be an energy drain even...

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