Kobe Bryant’s Maniacal Ambition a Challenge to His Aging Body

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — “You’ll see.”

That was what Kobe Bryant said after he felt the initial benefits of his 2011 blood-spinning knee procedure in Germany but hadn’t put them out for public display yet.

It was classic Kobe—reveling in the drama, savoring the told-you-so aspect of his success and eventually striking the pose of triumphant warrior.

He loved the German procedure enough to go back for a boost in his left ankle, and now he’s ready for another round of cutting-edge care for that right knee. Somewhere between immediately and several weeks, Bryant trusts, he’ll find remarkably greater range of motion and less pain in that balky knee.

What’s important to understand is why he’s always cutting on that edge.

Time after time in his career, the maniacal ambition in Bryant’s character has challenged his body to work with him—whether in overcoming injury or experimenting with novel treatment.

(He has hinted that the surgery on his left Achilles tendon was creative, too. In interview footage posted by NTD TV in China, Bryant said in August: “It was pretty innovative, the procedure that we did, in terms of how we attached the tendon and where it was torn. There are really complicated procedures that they normally do when taking tendons from the big toe and I don’t want to bore you guys with nasty stuff. But we really simplified the procedure and kind of took a risk with it—a calculated risk—and it has been very successful for us.”)

It’s one of the under-the-radar elements in Bryant legend: Day after day doing the inglorious maintenance of his body so that when the time comes and opportunity knocks, he can keep his nose to the grindstone as long as he needs.

Every once in a while, the mental toughness to overcome physical pain jumps to the forefront of Bry...

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