Commentary

Can Kobe come back after injury?

Updated: April 13, 2013, 8:49 AM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider
In his remarkable 17-year NBA career, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has overcome nearly every obstacle he has faced. But nothing Bryant has dealt with will be as challenging as his comeback if, as the Lakers medical staff diagnosed (pending an MRI), he ruptured the Achilles tendon in his left leg in the fourth quarter of Friday's win over the Golden State Warriors.

Because Achilles injuries are relatively rare, they don't share the same stigma associated with the dreaded ACL tear and, more recently, microfracture knee surgery. However, a ruptured Achilles has historically been the most problematic injury for NBA players. Of the 22 players my research found who suffered full Achilles ruptures in the past two decades, more than a quarter -- including Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas -- saw the injury lead directly to their retirement. Several others were never the same.

Let's take a deeper look at the history of Achilles injuries, FAQ-style.

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