No one knows when Kobe Bryant will return from his torn left Achilles tendon. No one knows how Kobe will play when he returns from his Achilles tendon except for Kobe himself…as well as an NBA Hall of Famer who went through almost the exact same process as Kobe.
Dominique Wilkins knows.
Wilkins, known as “The Human Highlight Film”, tore his Achilles tendon at the age of 32 while playing for the Atlanta Hawks. Skeptics didn’t think a player whose game was predicated on athleticism could come back from such a crippling injury and still be an effective player at the highest level. Wilkins came back the next year and had one of his best all-around seasons while proving all the doubters wrong.
So what exactly fueled Dominique Wilkins to come back even better?
While appearing as a guest on ESPN’s “First Take”, Wilkins shed some light on what motivated him throughout his rehab: “I was very determined. You had all the doubters saying, you know, ‘He’s done. It’s over with. He’s too old. And if he comes back, he won’t be the same’. And I remember saying, you know what, not only am I going to come back, but I’m going to be better than ever.”
Wilkins echoed the same sentiment that many NBA legends have stated before regarding Bryant, “Kobe, he’s got a competitive nature that you just don’t see anymore. So I think he’ll come back and he’ll do well”
Kobe will be entering his 18th season in the NBA. How in the world is he going to be better than he was before? According to Wilkins, Kobe is already ahead of the curve: “That Achilles tendon injury forces you to play on the ground as well as in the air and that means becoming more fundamentally sound. And Kobe being a fundamentally sound guy anyway, it’s going to be easy for him to make the adjustment.”
The fundamentals will obviously be there for Kobe, but what about his explosiveness? “The explosion will be there,” claimed Wilkins, “especially if you really rehab it and strengthen it like you should.”