Yes, I know we Celtics fans are supposed to hate all things Lakers and most especially Kobe Bryant. I think what happened to Kobe last night transcends all that. That man is a TRUE WARRIOR, and there's just no denying that fact no matter how deep the rivalry.
Last night's game perfectly encapsulated how fierce and courageous #24 is. First, he hurt his knee driving the right baseline. Gets up, walks it off. Then, he hurt his ankle driving to the middle and falling backwards awkwardly after taking the shot. He was clearly limping after that. From what happened later in the game, it's possible he injured his Achilles in that 2nd incident. If so, it would have been weakened and "ready to pop".
Finally, he lost his footing on a simple drive when he kicked off his left foot, like he's done thousands of times before. The move puts massive strain on the Achilles tendon, and this time -- in the 54,031st minute of Kobe's playing career -- it gave way. Kobe describes feeling it "pop," and a sensation like he'd been kicked in the back of the leg. He knew, immediately, that it was all over. Kobe stayed to hit his two FTs, then limped off for good... headed for MRI/surgery/rehab.
Is D'Antoni at least partly to blame here? Yes, I think he is. Prior to his injury, Kobe had played no less than 47 minutes in each of the Lakers' past 4 games. And when he was injured the second time in his final game, his coach STILL didn't take him out for a blow plus perhaps a quick courtside exam and some basic treatment (ice, elevation, etc.). [Can you imagine Doc Rivers ever doing that with, say, Garnett or Pierce? Not in this universe.]
Here's Kobe after the game. I have rarely seen a more emotional interview. This is how one of the game's truest warriors goes down...
Here's wishing you the speediest possible recovery, Kobe. I've got a lot of respect for you, man -- bitter erstwhile opponent though you may be.
And yes, I'm what you might call a "rabid" Celtics fan. This has nothing to do with that.
I take it on faith that most -- hopefully nearly all -- of us Celtics fans share in these good wishes for Kobe Bryant.