A ruptured Achilles tendon is one of the most devastating injuries an athlete can suffer. That’s why the NBA community is so devastated when a player like Klay Thompson goes down with it. For many, it’s been a career-ending injury. However, there are examples of players recovering well like Wesley Matthews.
In 2015, Matthews suffered a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg. Matthews returned to the court at the start of the 2015-16 season, and he’s managed to maintain his status as a starting shooting guard since.
Matthews is hoping to use his experience to help Thompson through his rehabilitation the same way another player did for him in 2015. That player? Kobe Bryant.
“It’s crazy, one of the people that helped me through mine, rest in peace, was Kobe,” Matthews said. “I had no idea ... damn, I didn’t mean to really get emotional ... he hit me up. So I tore it when I was in Portland playing against Dallas and he didn’t have my number, we didn’t reach out any time before that, but I’m pulling into my driveway and I remember getting a call and I have no idea what this number is, and it’s Kobe.
“He was just sharing his wisdom about it, and it really helped motivate me because he was honest, and he said ‘it’s hard.’ He said ‘it’s going to be hard.’ And at the time that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s what I needed to hear, because I didn’t want anything sugarcoated. I wanted to know what it was I was going to have to go through, and that helped, and he was always an outlet for me. And I like to think that I can be that for other people.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Bryant reaching out to players after their Achilles injuries. San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay and Seattle Storm guard Breanna Stewart have both said that the late Lakers legend helped them get through their rehabilitation. He knew how mentally and physically taxing the whole process is, and he did what he could to motivate them.
Bryant may be gone now, but his kindness will live on through players like Matthews, Gay and Stewart.