Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Injury Recovery and the Elite Athlete: Can and Will Kobe Bryant Recover and Come Back to the NBA?

NOTE:  This post was researched and written prior to the Boston Marathon bombing.  My heart goes out to the victims and families that have been harmed by this tragedy.  I hope that this post assists in their healing.  The article is not intended in any way to diminish or show disrespect or ignorance of the personal sensitivity and pain endured during this period of grief.  

Here is Kobe Bryant's entire Facebook post following his season-ending achilles tendon injury:

"This is such BS! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I've done millions of times! The frustration is unbearable. The anger is rage. Why the hell did this happen ?!? Makes no damn sense. Now I'm supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that??  I have NO CLUE. Do I have the consistent will to overcome this thing? Maybe I should break out the rocking chair and reminisce on the career that was. Maybe this is how my book ends. Maybe Father Time has defeated me...Then again maybe not! It's 3:30am, my foot feels like dead weight, my head is spinning from the pain meds and I'm wide awake. Forgive my Venting but what's the purpose of social media if I won't bring it to you Real No Image?? Feels good to vent, let it out. To feel as if THIS is the WORST thing EVER! Because After ALL the venting, a real perspective sets in. There are far greater issues/challenges in the world then a torn achilles. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, find the silver lining and get to work with the same belief, same drive and same conviction as ever.
One day, the beginning of a new career journey will commence. Today is NOT that day.
"If you see me in a fight with a bear, prey for the bear". Ive always loved that quote. Thats "mamba mentality" we don't quit, we don't cower, we don't run. We endure and conquer.
I know it's a long post but I'm Facebook Venting LOL. Maybe now I can actually get some sleep and be excited for surgery tomorrow. First step of a new challenge.
Guess I will be Coach Vino the rest of this season. I have faith in my teammates. They will come thru.
Thank you for all your prayers and support. Much Love Always.
Mamba Out"
Many people have seen this Facebook entry.  What is important to recognize is that Kobe Bryant went through all the stages of grief in one fell swoop in his Facebook rant. Rarely do we get to see the human vulnerability of a superstar immediately after an injury or any other type of trauma. It was a very personal and instructional look into the mindset of a very, mentally tough individual.

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our reaction to loss.

This social media entry gives us an idea of what it takes for any athlete to recover and deal with a serious injury, regardless of the level of play or expertise.  However, it also gives us a special and unique insight as to the resilient mindset of an elite athlete.

“Generally speaking, these elite athletes go through an initial period of anger, and usually that’s pretty quick. They don’t dwell on that long. Then they get resolved to, what’s my best way to get back? Once that switch flips, they generally speaking do not want to waste any time. At that point, they want it done now. Rarely will you see anybody delay.”
--Dr. Neal ElAttrache, Director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship program at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles. the doctor who performed surgery on Kobe Bryant’s ruptured Achilles tendon.

The doctor expects the Los Angeles Lakers star to be back playing at some point next NBA season. Speaking exclusively to the Los Angeles Times, Dr. ElAttrache said Sunday that Bryant’s competitive drive and mental toughness will give him an edge in recovering from an injury that figures to sideline him at least six to nine months.

"We're talking about a unique competitive spirit," said Jeff Van Gundy, a former NBA coach who is an ESPN analyst. "A great player."

"He had the determination to become a great player," Van Gundy said. "Also a love of the game which not many guys are able to retain after so many years."

It remains to be seen if Kobe Bryant can come back from this serious injury.  It will take time and much mental and physical hard work.  If this glimpse of his grief process, his competitive fire and mental toughness is a good clue, he will give it all that he has. 

Excerpts from (April 13, 2013), and (April 14, 2013).

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