Los Angeles Lakers: Tim Grover
Tim Grover knew what had happened almost instantly. The look on Kobe Bryant's face just wasn’t right. The way he stayed down on the ground, the way he grabbed the back of his heel -- it all pointed in a bad direction.
“I knew,” Grover said. “I knew it was something serious.”
Grover has been Bryant’s trainer since 2007. He’s nursed him back from all sorts of serious injuries and helped him find a work-around to knee issues that once threatened the guard's career. So long as Bryant had the will to do the training and attack the problems, Grover would give him solutions and courses of action.
It’s why Grover’s longtime client Michael Jordan recommended him to Bryant after Jordan retired, and why he’s essentially been at Bryant’s side ever since.
But a torn Achilles tendon -- which Bryant suffered April 12 in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 118-116 win against the Golden State Warriors -- was something altogether different. You can’t do any strengthening exercises to get you back on the court in a few days. You can’t push through the pain. You’re just out, for a good long while.
“It didn’t hurt me as much as it hurt him,” Grover said. “But it’s pretty damn close. I just know how much this means to him and how hard he’s worked to be in this position.”
In the first few hours after the injury, Grover knew what needed to be done. Research everything, give Bryant his options, think it all through with him, help him make the best decisions. Was it better to have surgery right away or wait? Are there options besides surgery? How long would the recovery really take? Who has made the best recovery from a similar injury?
“The guy who jumped out at me was [David] Beckham,” Grover said. Immediately, he began reading up and making calls to Beckham’s camp to find out the keys to success.
As frustrating and heartbreaking as the situation was, there was no time to dwell on it.
“Kobe always wants to know everything,” Grover explained. “Every detail. Why we’re doing this? What our options are? He’s very detail-oriented.”