The basketball world and the whole of Los Angeles recently lost a great icon. Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players to ever lace up and step on to the court, died in a tragic helicopter crash along with his daughter and several other people. He was a fixture of Los Angeles and the basketball community. Kobe helped lead the Lakers to 5 championships, including a three-peat from the 1999 season through 2002. He didn’t do it alone. Surrounding Kobe were some of the best players in the world, and their victories were not without difficulty.
Like any sports career, and especially basketball careers as prolific as Kobe Bryant’s, Shaquille O’Neal’s, and Derek Fisher’s, injuries come with the territory. Basketball, despite being a non-contact sport, is one of the most dangerous team sports for anyone to play. It’s a sport that involves a lot of running, jumping, quick stops, and contact without padding or protection provided in other team sports. Knees and ankles are especially at risk. It’s estimated that over 1.6 million basketball players suffer injuries related to the sport each year. These range from rolled ankles to concussions. If you’ve suffered an injury to your foot or ankle as a result of Basketball, or any other activity find a podiatrist in Los Angeles that’s right for you, and seek treatment, so you can get back to the game you love.
This is a player that needs no introduction. The name Kobe Bryant is one that even people with only a passing interest in the sport will recognize. He was a Los Angeles icon and pillar of the community, even off the court. He would play his entire professional career with The Los Angeles Lakers, despite a trade request that would later be rescinded. He was among the best shooting guards in the game and would win 5 championships in Los Angeles. He was a cornerstone to what many have said was the best offense in the league during the team’s three back to back to back championships.
Kobe would sustain several injuries throughout his career, some may have cost the Lakers even further titles. He had plenty of smaller injuries during his time and a couple of larger ones like needing surgery on his shoulder. He would have recurring injuries to his ankle, as it would sprain every so often. In the 2004 season, he was sidelined for an entire month with a sprained ankle. Kobe never let sprained ankles keep him down for too long, despite their frequency.
In basketball, one of the most common ways for a player to injure themselves is by spraining their ankle. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments within the ankle, which stabilizes the bones and joints. Sprains are often caused by overextension to one side or another, usually due to a loss of balance. It’s not at all uncommon to see a player suddenly stop, and in the process injure themselves, or come down awkwardly from a jump. Sprains come in a variety of different severities. A stretched ligament may be healed in just a couple of days, while a partially torn ligament may require surgery to repair. If the injury isn’t severe, it can be treated at home with ice and resting in the ankle. It’s always good to see a podiatrist because if it doesn’t heal properly, you’re likely to damage it again.
Derek Fisher was part of the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty, winning all five championships with them despite spending a few seasons with other teams before returning to Los Angeles and winning two more titles. It can be argued that Fisher isn’t as talented as some of the other players to play alongside Kobe during the dynasty years. The truth is that he was there through all of it, and earned 5 championships while doing so. At the time of writing, he coaches the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA and has even served as the president of the National Basketball Players Association. He is currently the all-time NBA record holder for playoff games played.
Despite his record number of games played in the postseason during his time in the NBA, Derek Fisher was no stranger to injuries. The most significant injury he would receive as a player was during the 2000-2001 season. Early in the season, he sustained a stress fracture in his foot. This injury caused him to almost write off the entire season. He missed the first 62 games of the season, but his return would be followed by a 17 game winning streak that saw the Los Angeles Lakers progress through their entire western conference playoffs without a loss. It would be capped off by Fisher who scored the most points on the team during game 4 of western conference finals with 28 points.
Stress fractures, like most foot and ankle injuries, are common among basketball players at all levels. Derek Fisher is an example of how long you can be sidelined, and how long it can take to heal. He’s also a testament to how much you can recover. A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone or even severe bruising inside your bone. They often occur when people change their activity and can even happen when running surface changes. While stress fractures aren’t exclusive to your feet, it’s quite common for them to occur in the feet of athletes. They’re often the result of overuse, which is why athletes are so susceptible to them.
Stress fractures are often characterized by pain that diminishes during rest and pain that intensifies during normal activities. In some cases, you might bruise as well. If you believe that you have a stress fracture then you need to see your podiatrist. Continuing to behave as normal will make it worse, and you may even break the bone entirely. To treat a stress fracture (after you’ve seen your doctor) remember RICE. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) Don’t rush your recovery.
Arguably the most famous player to ever pick up a basketball, Shaquille O’Neal, or Shaq as he would come to be known, was the original piece of the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty. Shaq was one of the most formidable centers to play the game. He and Bryant were the pillars of The Laker’s offense for years. They were essential in the securing of 3 titles and were a force to be reckoned with on the court. Shaq won multiple MVP awards throughout his career, 3 of them in Los Angeles during the championship runs. There would be trouble in Los Angeles however. There was a very public feud between Bryant and O’Neal that started with a fistfight at practice during the 98-99 season. After that, the two of them would publically feud for years and it eventually resulted in the trading of O’Neal to Miami. In Miami, he would win an additional championship just a season later. The two did eventually settle their differences and put the feud behind them.
O’Neal was no stranger to injury. His stature and weight made him particularly vulnerable. On the SiriusXM NBA Podcast, he looked back on his career saying: ” All the games that I missed due to injury which counted up to be about 250 games, averaging 25 points a game, there’s another 5000 points right there.” Had it not been for injuries he might have been the greatest center of all time. Unfortunately, we won’t ever be sure.
He suffered a variety of injuries, from needing stitches in his finger to being forced off the court for almost 10 weeks during his first game with the Los Angeles Lakers due to a knee injury. His most well-known injury was caused by a condition called Hallux Limitus/Hallux Rigidus. It causes the big toe to not be able to bend or flex at the joint where it connects with the rest of the foot. The condition wasn’t what made it his most famous injury. O’Neal would famously wait for the preseason before getting surgery. Kobe Bryant was one of the many critics who thought he should have gotten the elective surgery sooner in the off-season before it would affect his ability to play. O’Neal said in response to his critics “I got hurt on company time, so I’ll heal on company time.”
Hallux Rigidus is a degenerative condition that affects roughly 1 in 40 people aged 40 and over. Narrowed joint space leads to debilitating pain and a limited range of motion. Unfortunately for those affected by the disease, the only treatment is surgery. The goal is to relieve pain and restore motion to the joint through a variety of treatments. The most popular treatment is called Arthrodesis. It’s a joint sacrificing procedure that has remained the best treatment for Hallux Rigidus. Other surgical methods are still being studied at the time of writing. While it’s not a common problem among young athletes, if you experience any unusual or progressive deterioration in the range of motion you have with your foot or ankle it would be best to contact a podiatrist you trust. It’s always best to catch it early.
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