On his recent Nike tour in China, Kobe Bryant sat down with a group of young basketball players and answered questions posed to him on a wide range of topics including his focus and motivation, as well as how he will perform upon returning from injury this upcoming season.
Kobe is coming off a season in which he played just six games after returning from an Achilles injury in the 2012-2013 season. He returned in December but suffered a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee causing the veteran to eventually shut down for the rest of the season.
As a result of those two injuries and age (turned 36 on August 23), much has been made as to how effective Kobe will be once he takes the floor this fall. It is no secret to Kobe that his athleticism has been in decline over the last few years, but feels that will not hinder him on the court.
“I can say I want to be able to jump as high as I used to. I want to be as fast as I used to. But no; I don’t jump as high as I used to,” Kobe said. “That’s okay. I’m not as fast as I used to be. That’s okay, too. I’ll figure out another way to do it.”
While the athleticism of the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest champion is not what it once was, the skill and intelligence of the shooting guard remains. A master of his craft, Kobe has continued to evolve his game with age, something he has done since entering the league.
“I do the moves over and over,” Kobe said. “Especially in my younger days, I didn’t really focus on trying to get my feet faster. I focused on the moves. Whether it was a fadeaway, or whether it was a crossover, I did the move over and over and over. Then, I got faster at doing moves. My feet got faster at doing the moves. When you have repetition with what it is you’re trying to do, you inevitably get better and faster at that. The most important thing in basketball isn’t speed anyway. It’s not speed. It’s skill.”
In a recent interview with Sports On Earth, general manager Mitch Kupchak gave some positive returns on how the guard has looked in workouts, which should provide Lakers fans with a sense of hope and excitement.
“My window overlooks the court, and he comes in to work out from time to time,” Kupchak said. “You would not know he’s in his mid-30s. You wouldn’t know he hurt his knee and had a torn Achilles. There’s no limp. He’s got a hop in his step. He’s working hard.”
Below is the video of the question and answer session with Kobe: