OK. Kobe. OK.

Ok.

That’s what Kobe Bryant said after hearing that he has a torn rotator cuff. Kobe Bryant then elected to have surgery on Wednesday and would need 9 months to recover. This timetable would have Kobe ready at the start of the next season. The question now is whether Kobe should come back next season?

Many people have already chimed in and think that Kobe should hang’em up. Who can blame them? The hardest job for a head coach is to coach an aging superstar. In Kobe’s case it’s not only that he isn’t the same player he was five years ago, it’s the injuries that he is suffering at his advanced age.

Let me present an analogy. Troy is one of my favorite movies. Brad Pitt is just awesome as Achilles! Yet one of the things that bothered me from the film, and the legend of Achilles, is his downfall. Paris defeats the best soldier in the world when he misses with his bow and arrow and shoots Achilles in his Achilles.

Likewise, for Kobe, the beginning of the end began on that fateful night when he ruptured his Achilles. Some people can make the case that Kobe should’ve called it quits then. If not the Achilles injury, then maybe the knee fracture could’ve ended it all, right? After all, these are not “easy” injuries to recover from, especially for a player who has taxed his body as much as Kobe has for 19 years.

Kobe was hell bent on proving people wrong, that he was still the Black Mamba, or an evolved version of the Black Mamba. Now that mission is put on pause again after tearing his rotator cuff on his shooting shoulder. Kobe will now miss around 75% of the games since 2013. Is the tearing of the rotator cuff the final straw to break the camel’s back? How much more can Kobe put his body through before he calls it a career? When is enough, enough? Isn’t 19 years long enough?

This scene in the Dark Knight, I believe sums up how Kobe views coming back for next season.

As the Gotham is locked down, Catwoman pleads with Batman.

“Come with me. Save yourself. You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve given them everything.”

But Batman responds in martyrdom fashion, “Not everything. Not yet. ”

This is a reason why I’m a Kobe Bryant apologist. Kobe has given everything he has. He has given the Lakers, Lakers’ fans, NBA fans, and Kobe fans everything for 19 years. Yet, Kobe’s response to the doctor telling him he has a rotator cuff is simply “OK.” I hear you Kobe! Kobe can’t and won’t retire this year. People can stop with the questions. Even if the Lakers are horrible next year, he’s coming back.

But I don’t think Kobe hasn’t given everything he has. Not yet. And to be honest I need one more year of Kobe. I’m not ready for a reality of not seeing Kobe Bryant wearing that purple and gold. I need one more “Kobe face.” Sure it was ugly and difficult to see Kobe play this season and shoot a mere 37%. But you have to understand; I’ve seen Kobe grow up before my eyes. I was in the fifth grade when the Lakers won the first of five championships with Kobe. I remember watching the parade in the classroom, which was super cool of the teacher in the first place. I’ve grown up watching him play, cheering for him, and praying that he would pass the ball a little more.

I’m not quite ready to put Kobe out to pasture. Returning for an unprecedented 20th season is Kobe’s last chapter; it’s his last challenge. It would be nice if he were chasing number 6 but that has too many variables.

Now his return is all on Kobe. Can he summon the will and strength for one more season, to go out shooting with no regard? Kobe deserves, no better yet, he has earned the right to go out on his own terms.

All Kobe had to say was “Ok” because he understood this is just the next mountain that he will conquer in his marvelous career. After, and only after, he has done so, will he be able to walk away from the game of basketball. I have no doubt that he will return and give us all one hell of a curtain call. So for now all I have to say to him is:

“Ok. Kobe. Ok.”

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