The Los Angeles Lakers star guard has played 17 long and grueling seasons in the NBA. That’s 1,234 regular-season games, 220 postseason games, 14 All-Star Games and countless preseason and international games.
Yet, the fire in Bryant’s belly is burning as intensely today at the age of 34 as it did when he entered the league in 1996. As his peers will attest, his passion for the game is simply unparalleled.
In a recent Journal Times’ survey of 35 NBA players and advance scouts, Bryant was their overwhelming choice as the “NBA’s Most Competitive’’ player. Among those casting votes for Bryant were two players who have witnessed his almost-demonic determination up close and personal: former teammate and current Charlotte guard Ramon Sessions and current teammate Steve Blake.
“Just having played with Kobe, I have seen how extremely competitive he is,’’ Sessions said. “I think he’s in his 17th season now and he’s still got a will to win like nobody else. He’s all about winning. He’ll do everything in his power to win.’’
Blake concurred: “He’s the most competitive player in the league ... and it’s not even close.’’
Blake’s sentiments about Bryant were born out in the “Most Competitive Player’’ poll. Bryant received nearly half of the votes with 15. Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, Miami forward LeBron James and Boston forward Kevin Garnett were a distant second with four votes apiece.
But nobody is more ultra-competitive than Bryant, who seems to treat every game like it’s an NBA Finals one.
Said Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova: “Kobe always plays hard. Always.’’
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