Kobe Bryant tearing his Achilles tendon was the real ending of his career. Bryant showed admirable resillience to even attempt to come back from such a devastating injury so late in his career, but his play never approached the level he was at before the tear ever again.
It's a topic Baxter Holmes of ESPN touched on in a beautifully written and well-reported piece before Bryant's career comes to a close on Wednesday. After his story (which all Lakers fans should read) dropped on Tuesday morning, Holmes took to Twitter to report some outtakes from the feature.
Most notable among those was that after tearing his Achilles, Bryant asked Lakers trainer Gary Vitti to tape his foot and allow him to play with the tear. Seriously. That actually happened.
Bryant has played through a ton of injuries in his 20-year career, but let's pause and take a minute to acknowledge the insanity of that request. After being told his season was over due to one of the worst injuries any athlete can sustain, Kobe's first thought was to literally tape himself back together so he could keep playing. In a year the Lakers just barely made the playoffs as an eighth seed and were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Kobe and the team were playing their best basketball of the season before his injury, but to try and play with a taped together Achilles is still a ludicrous proposition. Bryant will be remembered for a lot of things after he hangs up his Nikes on Wednesday, and his otherworldly pain tolerance will certainly be one of the top things on the list.
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