The road to recovery for Kobe Bryant took a surprising twist on Wednesday as he made his way to Germany to have platelet-rich plasma therapy on his right knee before the season begins. It appears that by heading into his 18th season in the league, Bryant wants to ensure that his body is ready to withstand the physical grind, amidst continuing the increased workouts to get his Achilles tendon ready for basketball.
Many of his fans were puzzled at this news that broke Thursday by league sources, reported by Yahoo Sports.
Already having the career-threatening setback of a torn Achilles, it raised questions and curiosity of Bryant going through even more health concerns. As you might recall, Bryant went through this same process in the 2011 offseason as he traveled overseas to repair a completely deteriorated right knee. Before the start of the 2011-12 regular season, he stated that there was absolutely no way he could complete another full season with the knee in its previous condition.
Does This Mean That the Latest Visit to Germany is Bad News?
Luckily, the vibe is that there are no major setbacks piled on top of getting him further conditioned. The therapeutic procedure is very popular for stars in major sports and involves removing approximately two tablespoons of blood from the injured/affected area and then placing it into a centrifuge. This process is said to isolate platelets and growth factors and is completed once the mixed product is injected back into Bryant’s knee. This allows for healing to be accelerated and the PRP treatment is not considered blood doping.
What this says about Bryant is that he is handling his first major recovery in a well-paced, cautious manner. Beginning basketball activities this week at the team’s training camp was the signal that he is finalizing treatments and getting ready to begin more intense workouts on the basketball court. Wouldn’t one believe that if Bryant’s knee was in that bad of condition and it was a huge concern that he would know better than to wait for October to get the treatment? He is simply taking every step necessary to get back to 100 percent, which in turn will limit the problems during the season. The healthier he returns to the Lakers, the less chance of him being plagued throughout the 70-82 games he will play (pending his return date).
Coach Mike D’Antoni weighed in on Bryant’s decision and relieved some of the fear that Lakers’ fans may have had:
“I don’t think I’m surprised,” D’Antoni said on Thursday afternoon. “I think he had it programmed and that’s the way it was. He knew he had time because he’s not getting on the court yet. I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
This came a day after D’Antoni told the media that Bryant “just keeps getting better” through his healing process. If Bryant had any concerns of his knee not being healthy enough to come back and take on the scoring load this Lakers team is going to need, he would have had the PRP treatment during the early part of the summer. He knows he has time and not many people expect him to be ready by Oct. 29.
If there is one player that knows how to prepare for a season properly, it’s Kobe Bryant. Tracking more than 45,000 regular season minutes, he has played professional basketball longer than the legendary Michael Jordan did in his career, which definitely says something about his awareness of how to approach health concerns.
Bryant is not only doing everything he can off the court to return to his team, but also to return as one of the deadliest scorers in the league. Recording eight 40-plus point games last season (tied with Carmelo Anthony), he managed to average 27.3 points per game and become the first player to score that much in his 17th season.
From what this news tells us about his efforts to keep his knees fresh and Achilles strong, fans that are eager to see Bryant back in purple and gold and to game action by Thanksgiving should be ecstatic.
By the same token, critics that question if he will be the same type of player he once was should begin searching through their notes for players that have returned in a dominant fashion after rupturing their Achilles tendon.
You won’t find any strong evidence of it occurring … until the 2013-14 season is in the record books.