Kevin Ware & Kobe Bryant Wager On First To Return To The Court

The freaky-looking injury Kevin Ware suffered during last season’s NCAA Tournament had a nation simultaneously sympathetic and a little grossed out. The First Lady Michelle Obama, Kevin Durant, Charles Barkley and other athletes stepped forward to offer their condolences, but Kobe Bryant placed a wager with the Louisville Cardinals guard.

According to Ware’s Sunday conversation with ESPN, Kobe and Ware had a little bet on who would be the first to return to the court. In an exhibition win over Pikeville, Ware was back on the court even though he’s been held out of their first regular seasons games this season. Fast forward to the 1:30 mark for the Kobe comments, but Ware said, “I’ve got to get in touch with [Bryant] again so he can make it to a game.”


Kobe suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in a late-April game last season and is still rehabilitating. Former NBA players Dominique Wilkins and Isiah Thomas — both of whom suffered Achilles’ tendon tears, with Thomas inevitably walking away from the game because of his — believe Bryant will be back as they tell ESPN’s Marc Stein.

“If anybody can come back, Kobe can,” Wilkins says. “And I’ll tell you why I say that: He’s one of the most competitive guys that I’ve ever met. He’s one of those guys that competes on a level like Jordan, Bird and Magic. He has that type of tenacity, that type of attitude, where he’s not going to let anybody tell him what he can’t do. It all depends on the person, how determined and how dedicated you are on working and training to get it back the way it was.


Said Thomas: “Devastating is the correct word. It is a devastating injury. Had I come back and played, I’m sure it would have affected my speed, jumping ability, quickness and so forth and so on. I was older, so I had lost some of that anyway.

“But I would never bet against Kobe. Because what Kobe still has that I didn’t have at the end of my career is that hunger. When you listen to Kobe talk … you still hear and see a hunger that, frankly, I just didn’t have at that point.”

While Zeke and ‘Nique both think Kobe’s hunger to get back will be successful, right now Ware has won the bet and Kobe owes him a trip to Louisville. But since Ware is still two weeks away from a full-time return to the court for the Cardinals, maybe Kobe is waiting until Ware is all the way back again instead of just an impromptu appearance during an exhibition game.

[The Post Game]

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