Some might be wondering whether Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant's playing time this season caused his Achilles tear Friday night, but at least one person close to the veteran star doesn't believe that's the case.
Longtime trainer Tim Grover says Bryant's season-ending injury, which is expected to have a significant impact on the remainder of his career, was simply the result of bad luck, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles.
Bryant, 34, suffered the injury without contact late in the fourth quarter of Friday's win over the Golden State Warriors. Attempting to drive past Harrison Barnes, Bryant stepped awkwardly on his left leg and immediately collapsed to the ground.
While he was able to make a pair of free throws on one leg, Kobe immediately walked off the court and into the locker room, where he later gave a sobering post-game interview in acknowledging the likely severity of the injury. An MRI scheduled for Saturday will confirm the initial diagnosis.
Bryant has played the third-most minutes of any player in the NBA this season, an incredible figure when considering his age. No other player in the top 30 in playing time is over the age of 30, as SB Nation's Tom Ziller noted Saturday morning, leading to questions of whether the injury was caused by his time on the court.
However, Kobe's trainer says this kind of injury wouldn't be caused by the heavy workload.
"I'd be shocked if the minutes had anything to do with it. An Achilles can happen stepping off a sidewalk," Grover said. "This is not Kobe's fault, because he pushed himself. This is not coaches' fault. An Achilles just happens."
If the injury is as severe as suspected, Bryant will likely need 6-9 months to recover. Whether he'll ever be able to regain his form as one of the NBA's elite players is uncertain.