You might say that last Friday, April 12th, will be a day that both Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods will want to forget as quickly as possible. Both of these high profile athletes probably had their worst nightmares come to true life in a matter of hours. It just goes to show you that even the great ones in any particular sport will sooner or later face adversity and how they respond will usually define their legacy.
I have never seen a golfer in any tournament get the kind of bad break that Woods got on the 15th hole. During his approach shot, Woods hit a nearly perfect shot onto a slanted green. The objective was to hit the ball towards the back of the green and spin the ball back towards the pin. Woods had the proper line and distance except there was a small obstacle in the way, the flag stick. The ball hit the flag stick on the way to the back of the green and promptly rolled off the green and into a creek located near the front edge of the green. Had the ball not hit the flag stick, it probably would have spun back to within a few feet of the cup and therefore giving Woods a great opportunity for a birdie on a par 5 hole. Instead, Woods was forced to drop his ball near the spot of his first shot and play the shot over with a one stroke penalty. His drop shot was perfect and landed close to the pin and Woods made a boogie 6. I believe Tiger could have probably hit a 100 balls from that same spot and not hit the pin. It was a terrible break and to add insult to injury, it was ruled later that Woods did not drop the ball in the proper place. He apparently dropped the ball a few yards back from where he was suppose to play his shot and according to the rules of golf, that is a no-no.
Although it seems like a rather silly rule, Tiger should have known about it. There is absolutely no excuse for any professional golfer not to know the rules of the game. They should know the rules inside and out especially concerning drops. That is a very common occurrence. I can remember a few years ago, Dustin Johnson got assessed a 2 stroke penalty for grounding his club into a trampled down area. Just days before, he received a memo explaining the rules of the course but obviously did not pay attention. It might have cost Johnson, thousands of dollars and a possible major championship.
The same can be said of Woods. The oversight of the rules along with a terrible, unlucky bounce cost him four strokes on the hole and probably will cost him the tournament. Imagine if he finishes three strokes behind the winners? If I were in his shoes, I would not be able to sleep for a week and have many nightmares about that incident.
The play that Kobe got injured on was just shear bad luck. If you ever watch him play, he is always making aggressive stop and start moves with the ball. The guy has the best footwork in the game. This time, the body finally caught up to him and he torn his Achilles tendon on a move to the basket.
The timing of the injury could not have been worse. The Lakers are fighting for a playoff spot and Bryant has been playing his rear end off during the last few weeks, trying everything in his power to put the Lakers in the post season. I am not really a Kobe fan but I admire his hard work and dedication to the game. He might be the hardest working player in the NBA and his work ethic is something that many younger players in the league should look at.
There was some talk after the injury that his career might be over. After all, Bryant is 34 but he has played in the league since he was 18. Along the way, Kobe has played in many playoff series so he might be considered an old 34. Those who say his career is over are totally full of it!! I would not be surprised if Bryant comes back better than ever for next season. His work ethic and determination will help him greatly in his rehab. I think the injury will give him another challenge to conquer and might be a blessing in disguise.
It seems like more athletes these days are suffering serious injuries and it should really come as no secret. These guys need to take more time off from the game. Kobe has been logging heavy minutes this season after playing for the Olympic team last summer. A sport like basketball is hard on the body especially the joints. There is a great deal of pressure to do well and succeed but sometimes players need to dial back not only on their playing time but look at their off the court training. Kobe is a prime example of an athlete who probably pushed his body a bit too far. Just my opinion.
I am sure both of these great athletes will have brighter days ahead. I expect Tiger to bounce back and win a few more majors. Contrary to what people say, he has a lot of good golf left in his career and I believe he will break Nicklaus’s record for majors. The same can be said of Bryant. He still has about 5 good years left in him if he wants to continue playing. I am sure both of these guys will continue to have their ups and downs but both are tremendously tough minded athletes who will not let a bad day affect the rest of their careers. They will both bounce back.