Kobe Bryant admits that when he returned last year after injuring his Achilles that the crowd's support nearly brought him to tears.
The Lakers 2012-2013 season is one they'd like to soon forget, as the Dwight Howard experience turned out to be a complete failure, and team sporting four future Hall of Famers just narrowly made the playoffs. Not to mention, Kobe blowing out his Achilles at the end of the season.
He had stayed away from the bench as the season came to a close since it was difficult for him to get around, and to cope with being on the bench while not playing. In the Lakers last game of the year, Game 4 of their First Round series against the Spurs, the team was about to be swept, and Howard had just been rejected, so Bryant made his way to the bench.
This being the first time the crowd had seen him since injuring his Achilles, the fans at the Staples Center greeted him with a standing ovation, and chants of "MVP." The man who calls himself the Black Mamba says it was the most love he'd felt from a crowd, and he was on the verge of tears he was so emotional.
L.A. is about to be swept and Howard is about to leave for Houston, where he will forfeit $30 million and avoid discomfort. But Bryant is the rare modern athlete whose presence can transcend playoff results and free-agent decisions. Sometimes, just seeing him is enough. “The long year, the injuries, the Shaq stuff, the Phil stuff, it all came to a head when I walked out to the bench,” says Bryant, who was serenaded with a standing ovation and MVP chants. “It was the first time I ever felt that kind of love from a crowd. Oh, my God, I was fighting back the tears.”