By HARSHA GOPALAKRISHNAN, junior
In today’s fast-paced world of sports, athletes are putting more on the line than ever before, and injuries can sideline even the greatest of athletes for lengthy periods of time. Two such athletes are Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi, who are about to return after sustaining significant injuries. However, their comebacks are inciting major debate over whether both can be fully restored to their former glories.
Star of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant or the “Black Mamba” suffered from a torn Achilles heel at the end of the 2012-2013 season during a game against the Golden State Warriors. A surgery for the injury benched him for the Lakers’ first 19 games of the 2013-2014 season. Unfortunately, six games after his return, in the third quarter of a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on December 17, 2013, the All-Star guard fractured the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. Bryant’s injury, along with those of other sidelined players Steve Nash and Jordan Farmer, only spells doom for the Lakers, a team that relies predominantly on the Black Mamba’s ability and prowess. Kobe Bryant will be undoubt edly fighting his hardest to return, but only a miracle can save the Lakers this season.
Across the world, another star has recently left the bench to resume his dominance in international soccer. Lionel Messi, Barcelona forward, was sidelined after a left hamstring tear in Barcelona’s 4-1 victory at Real Betis. Earlier, in September 2013, he also suffered from a small muscle tear in his right thigh. Messi has been fortunate enough to be injury-free up until the end of last season. Now, his luck has turned, with injuries forcing him to miss many of Barcelona’s games this season and leaving the team in a tight spot. Barcelona leads the Spanish league, but will now be without Messi for up to eight games, including the last two Champions’ League group games against Ajax and Celtic. Despite his injuries this season, Messi scored 14 goals in 16 games. On the other hand, he endured a four-game scoreless streak—an eternity by his standards. His recent injuries have been a concern for both FC Barcelona and the Argentina National Team, whose hopes of winning the World Cup depend largely on Messi’s performance. “Messi needs to stop and take care of himself,” Barcelona teammate Cesc Fabregas said. “I hope he recovers, and that he takes all the time he needs to make sure he’s well.”
Though Lionel Messi has been playing well and is reportedly fully healed, whether or not he will be able to play at his usual high-performance level, without any sudden and possibly more dangerous injuries, is still questionable.
An injury sustained at any level of competition, if not properly addressed, can spell downfall for any athlete, whether a seasoned veteran or budding rookie. In the end, the coach must make the final, sometimes difficult, verdict and order players coming off of injuries to restrain themselves from vigorous practice until they are back in top form. Although superstars such as Bryant and Messi constantly strive to break boundaries and create new records, their efforts will be ruined if their health is in jeopardy.