In two months, Kobe Bryant will be 33 years old. Mortality is a lesson that all NBA players learn at one point as their bodies begin to betray them after years of pounding the hardwood and running countless lengths of the court. Bryant has already begun to confront the twilight of his NBA career, as his playing style has shifted from the high-flying, afro-sporting youngster to the smarter, cunning outside shooter that now goes by the name “Black Mamba”.
Having not heard from Kobe Bryant publicly since a press conference to launch his foundation to fight homelessness the Los Angeles Times sat down with Kobe’s father Joe Bryant for an quick chat this past Friday to talk about his son’s attitudes towards basketball, dealing with injuries, and just how many years the 15-year NBA veteran has left.
On whether Kobe will be playing for the next three to five years:
The issue is going to be when the media talks, he can’t get 30 [points] anymore, but he’s averaging 25 [points] and five [assists]. The expectations they’ll put on him or say he can’t do anymore, that’s going to be the biggest challenge, dealing with it. The important thing is as long as he’s enjoying the game and enjoying the challenge and still in the race to vie for a championship. That’s motivation enough.”
On the lack of three-point shooters with the Lakers this last year:
Every year that Michael Jordan played, he always had a shooter. Steve Kerr, John Paxson, B.J. Armstrong. Name all the shooters Kobe had in his career. When crack reporters are analyzing the game, that’s the first thing they should look at. What helped Michael out was he would penetrate, get double teamed and then stick it out to Steve Kerr. Kobe never had that, but he’s still been successful.”
Heralded as “the next Jordan” since coming into the league, Jordan and Bryant (to this point) both played for 15 years with the two playing near identical minutes in their careers. Only in regular season/playoff breakdowns do they differ, where Bryant has the slight edge in the postseason due to Jordan’s early career playoff struggles:
Bryant: Regular season – 40145 min. — Playoffs – 8165 min. — Total 48310 min.
Jordan: Regular season – 41010 min. — Playoffs – 7474 min. — Total 48484 min.
What may be even more astonishing to consider is that idea that, at 33, three to five more years in a career like Bryant’s would put his minutes into the top three in NBA history.
Bryant at this point only trails NBA Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabaar by less than 700 minutes, meaning that if Bryant were to win one more title, his ring total would not only match Jordan’s, his playoff minutes would surpass Abdul-Jabaar as well.