A little more than two months recovering from his torn left Achilles tendon, and it’s clear there’s plenty of sources motivating Kobe Bryant.
The general public who wonders if his insatiably strong work ethic will be enough in overcoming such a serious injury. Bryant’s unquenchable thirst for championships. And as revealed in his visit this week in Brazil, Bryant’s understanding on how other athletes fared with a similar injury.
That’s why shortly after suffering his injury April 12 against the Golden State Warriors, Bryant reached out to former MLS Galaxy star David Beckham over his Achilles injury that sidelined him last year for six months.
“Becks and I have grown to be pretty close since he’s been playing in Los Angeles for [the Galaxy] the last five years,” Bryant said recently in a video interview with ESPN.com.br. (link in Portuguese). “He and I talked for quite a bit about his process, and his recovery. He hasn’t had any issues with it since. He’s won several championships since the injury, so I’m pretty encouraged by that.”
Beckham suffered his injury March 14, 2010 with Italian club, A.C. Milan, causing him to miss the 2010 World Cup with England. But Beckham returned to the field Sept. 12 later that year, about a month ahead of schedule than was anticipated. The Galaxy then won two consecutive MLS Cups.
As for Bryant, the Lakers had estimated at the time of injury for him to return at minimum between six and nine months. He’s recently penciled his return to either November and December, making it highly likely the Lakers star will stay sidelined for at least the first month of the season. Still, all accounts say Bryant remains on pace with his recovery.
“It’s going well,” he said of his rehab. “I’m pretty much two months out of surgery, and I’m walking. I can get up on my toes. I’m pleased with how it’s going so far.”
An informal sampling of outside medical experts, however, suggests it remains unpredictable how Bryant’s progress will ultimately translate onto the court. At least not as definitive as when Bryant stepped on the court this season and averaged a team-leading 27.3 points on 46.3 percent shooting, third best in the NBA. That’s a dicey situation considering Bryant’s argument that the Lakers need a “couple younger legs” next season to help the team’s veteran-laden roster.
Bryant conceded he shared some of those doubts, too. But he said he’s channeling that skepticism into motivation.
“You have to allow yourself to think that, because it keeps you on edge. It keeps you motivated. It keeps you strong,” he said. “I think for me, once I started hearing everybody else say, ‘Well, maybe this is it. Maybe this is too much’ — that’s what really gave me the determination to see if I can prove them wrong.”
It sure helps Bryant also can lean on another athlete in Beckham to gain perspective.
“You want to be able to go out on your own terms,” Bryant said. “You don’t want to be forced out of the game because of an injury,” he said. “You want to feel like when you’re leaving the game, you’re leaving because you want to.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org