After an impressive victory against the Los Angeles Clippers in the season opener, the Los Angeles Lakers were annihilated by the Golden State Warriors, 125-94 the following night. Before the start of the game, Warriors coach Mark Jackson reflected back to the game in April and admitted that he thought Kobe Bryant was faking the injury via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“Even in the midst of going against him I’m in huddle I’m saying, ‘Don’t fall for the okeydoke. He’s all right. Don’t allow him to take over this game,’ not knowing that he was really hurt,” Jackson said. “That’s one regret I have. If had to do it again I would have called a timeout and allowed him to walk off the floor.”
Wednesday’s game was the first time the two teams played each other since Kobe ruptured his Achilles on April 12, 2013.
While Bryant has never faked an injury in his career, most were likely thinking that it was not a serious injury as Kobe was able to march to the free-throw line on his own will to tie up the game. After realizing the extent of the injury, Jackson regrets not calling a timeout for a player he has great respect for.
When the Lakers and Warriors faced each other in China during the preseason, Jackson felt it was important to reach out to Bryant and informed the Lakers star about his regret. To no one’s surprise, Bryant had a typical response for Jackson:
“I thought it was important to let him know that,” Jackson said. “Typical Kobe. He said thank you, appreciate it and he’s coming at us next time he sees us. But I feel the same way. It’s mutual respect and appreciation for one of the best to do it.”
While most are very skeptical that Bryant will return the same player, Jackson’s story shows how much respect he has for the future Hall-of-Famer. Like most fans watching the game that Friday night, everyone thought Bryant most likely sprained his ankle and was going to play through it like he always does.
Six months after sustaining the injury, Bryant has been cleared for basketball activities. After shattering the recovery timetable, Bryant says the tendon is healed at this point, but is trying to regain flexibility in his ankle. With the basketball world waiting for his return, Kobe will take his time and make sure that he’s the same player he was before the injury.
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