A must read article by Roland Lazenby. The harsh reality of age hitting Kobe.

HoopsHype: Larry Bird spent his later years in the NBA battling heel spurs and a bad back, the price he paid for the all-out way he played the game.

For Magic Johnson, the end came with an embarrassing loss in the 1991 NBA Finals, followed a few months later by the stunning revelation that he was HIV positive. His later attempts at a comeback were hard to watch.

Jerry West fought through an array of injuries to finally help his Los Angeles Lakers to a championship in 1972 after the team had failed in seven previous trips to the NBA Finals. Two seasons later West found himself tangled in a contract dispute with Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke, so he played one final furious exhibition game and retired in a bitter huff. He then filed a lawsuit against the team for which he had played his entire career.

Michael Jordan was thought to be the one who would finally leave the game on his own terms. He defeated the Utah Jazz with a killer shot in the 1998 NBA Finals to win a sixth championship for the Chicago Bulls. It all seemed so perfect until he gave in to weakness and attempted a comeback with the Washington Wizards three years later that produced two miserably lost seasons. That failed effort was rewarded by an ugly scene in which Jordan was fired as an executive by Washington owner Abe Pollin.

Pro basketball’s select few — its greatest competitors — have all reached the heights of fame and glory only to find themselves staring at a harsh reality — their youth is gone, having been spent in an seemingly endless, dizzying cycle of games and practices, a blur of physically challenging seasons, punctuated by summers that were far too brief and much too busy.

  • expo

    BOOOOOO…… Stop trying to put him in the grave!!! He’s not declining, he’s playing through injury!!! There’s a difference!!! Besides he passed the ball the entire game like Pau has been crying about all season and they didn’t do anything with it. A little rest and relaxation will do him some good!!

  • trippleocho

    I REFUSE to believe that Kobe is declining. He just has injuries. What player you know can play with 3 broken fingers ON THEIR SHOOTING HAND? If we don’t win the championship this year (and sadly it looks that way) I GUARANTEE that we will win it the following year.

    I really hope that Kobe doesn’t play any competitive basketball this off-season and just heal up because at 31 injuries don’t heal as fast. But Kobe ain’t wearing down.

  • mr.laker19

    Face the facts…. We could be witnessing the fall of Kobe Bryant, hope im wrong…..

  • justdogm1

    sucks to be DR.BUSS,90 mill for zero championships….LAKERS are buried for a few years ,….thanks kobe…….

    • LakersMike31

      Agreed. That extension was premature. Now the Lakers are REALLY gonna pay for it.

      • lakerman1

        Kobe earned every bit of that money and will still draw fans. The only thing you two could draw is flies. You are not paying him so it is not your decision. Worry about how much you make not what someone else is getting paid.

  • LC09

    dayummmm he made me think bout alot of things wow..but we still guna win da ship so ha

  • Matt from Dallas

    This COULD be the decline of Kobe or it could just be that hes hurt, i guess we will find out in time.

  • Robert

    Death? Them’s strong words now. Them’s fightin’ words.
    .
    Kobe is not ‘dying’ at all.
    .
    REMEMBER – he was shooting 49% (the highest in his career) BEFORE he broke one of his remaining ‘shooting hand’ fingers. That was BEFORE the game against Cavs, etc., and he STILL had 4 game winning last second shots. REMEMBER?
    .
    Does anyone here have any idea what it is like to play injured? I just play pickup games, but I’ll tell you – even with the ‘smallest’ injury, it affects your entire game – your style of play. You have to adjust – move differently. Kobe has spent the last 4-5 months ‘adjusting’ to his injuries. It’s clear that he is still a little off in his play – AND – he is STILL playing – HARD NBA style basketball.
    .
    Anyway, mark my words, even if the Lakers ‘limp’ through the playoffs, and get to the Finals – after that, Kobe is going to ‘change’ his program a little. You will see him adopt a process that pays consideration to longevity in the NBA, much like Steve Nash does (remember, Nash has a ‘slip disk’, and so plays with an injured back all the time, but has an ‘in game’ rehab routine to keep him on top). Kobe is going to think about that now.
    .
    He should actually speak with “The Captain” – Kareem – who mastered longevity in the NBA. The tallest players in the NBA tend to have the shortest lives, except for 2 players – Kareem and Wilt. Kareem invoked an ‘in season’ rehab style program that kept him in for 38,000 points. Look it up.
    .
    Kobe will end his career ‘on top’, not on a ‘dying’ note. He may proclaim that he has done ‘enough’, but that will be it – you will NEVER see him sputter out of the NBA. Also, this type of thing is the motivation Kobe needs, or will need, to PISS HIM OFF. And we all know what happens once THAT happens. Maybe not this year, but some time again, we WILL see the ‘angry scowl’ again.
    .
    As the great Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over”. …. and, it AIN’T over yet for Kobe. Not even close!
    .
    As the great “Jim Hill” used to say: “Keep the faith”. So keep the faith, Lakers Nation.

  • livetowin16th

    All of this bs about kobe declining is just bait for haters. Name me one player who’s gonna play on a hurt ankle, and 3 bum fingers, and STILL get, what 27 ppg? Name me ONE other player.

  • http://thelakersnation.com Kam Pashai

    I’m a STRONG criticizer of Kobe’s current play.

    But this article is way off base.

  • mytiman

    In the near future, that $30mil per season extension that the Lakers gave to Kobe would bite them. I guarantee that. Just too much for an aging superstar.

    • oca_rold

      agree man. 30 mil is just too much. injury or not. next year would add another year to his 14th year career. case in point, he is getting old.

      • jonb

        u guys arent paying so wtf do u care? we know buss is willing to go over the luxury and if he continues to do so w/ kobe being paid, albeit not by u then whats the problem? u think lakers management didnt think about that. MJ even said there ARENT many kobe bryants around when asked what was need to win a championship…

        • mytiman

          Well, first of all, I won’t pay a guy past his prime $30mil. and I’m sure a lot would agree so this shows Buss is out of his mind right now and is just a Kobe ass-kisser.

          Second, why put all that money on him? Invest on other things. Save up for the summer of 2011 or 2012. Kobe is getting older every darn day, he ain’t getting better. Sure he works hard during the off season, but let’s be frank, we can see he is struggling with his shots and hasn’t been 100% since last season’s championship run.

          We need more talents here in LA. Because 29 teams in the league are improving as I write this.

          And why the f*ck do we care? Its because of the Lakers legacy. The management isn’t handling it right.
          (See 09-10 regular season record and current status with Oklahoma)

          • expo

            wow…. this guy just led the team yo a championship and now he aint worth s@#t!!! How soon we forget!!!! Kobe isn’t the problem…. His teammates have gone hollywood!!!

          • lakerman1

            How much did you chip in oh wait nothing. People like you are assholes and probably would throw your aging relatives out to pasture. Kobe’s knowledge and experience is worth every cent and no matter what some of you think the Lakers are just not going to win every year. What amazes me is how you same idiots seem to always flipflop with the Mitch resign Kobe Mitch resign Lamar and on and on. YOU ARE NOT THE ONES PAYING KOBE. Worry about the five dollars an hour you make at Taco Bell.

  • andy2000

    hey look how many shot did he take to get 27ppg?

    • mytiman

      And the 39 points he put up in Game 2.

  • Justin M.

    Of course age has something to do with Kobe’s bad play, who isn’t affect by age, but he also has a fractured finger, bad knee, and lets not forget that previous finger injury last season, which i still don’t think he has gotten over to add on top of his age. I challenge anyone to get close to the production kobe puts out under those circumstances. Writers need to write stupid stuff like this to keep their jobs and get “fans” to doubt the game of one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Have people forgotten how bad Wade was when he had a few injuries pile up a couple of years ago. Geez, get off Kobe’s back and show some respect, he’s more than earned it.

  • jonb

    On Jan. 1 2010 rick kamla asked if kobes EVER been BETTER? fastforward to a litany of injuries to april and now kobe is “dying.” The man is INJURED, of course hes not the kobe of 2004 but come on. This reminds of that kicking a person when theyre down analogy, not fair.
    .
    .
    To quote someone on that blog, laker fans and the media have turned kobe into a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t player.” Look, ALL players decline as they age but this just seems and most likely is a coincidence; the lakers are playing poorly, kobe is playing poorly due to INJURY, and hes 31 which combined=nonsensical articles and comments.
    .
    .
    As kobe said the other night, “you think theyd ****** know better”…..

  • mathman

    u guys must be out of your mind. kobe is not to old, he is just hurt. till the midpoint of the season everyone of u said kobe is the best player, the best closer etc. now they lost a few games and he is to old. come on… reminds me of the houston series last year, when everyone was crying. these are the playoffs guys. a team is not expectet to win every game at this time of the year…

  • justdogm1

    we aren`t out of our minds, we just watch the games….get real ,its over.

    • lakerman1

      Folks we have a Psychic in the house. What are the winning Mega Millions numbers.

  • xtro

    kobe needs to rest this summer after the team wins the nba championship.

  • dcLakerx4

    Say what you want to about Kobe, but he’s shown the willingness to be what the team needs him to be. Whether a facilitator, scorer, or closer, he’s done it all. THIS YEAR, with finger, knee, and back injuries and having played more basketball then any other player in the last 3-4 years, we’re asking him to be the same guy. HOW can he do this with no help? This isn’t last year’s team.

    Anyone remember Smush Parker? What if you filled our bench with a bunch of that guy. Well, you’re watching it…and yes…I’m including Lamar Odom. But let me start with starter, Ron Artest…FAILED EXPERIMENT. We…or atleast I miss you Trevor.

    Benchmob? Plaa..lease!
    LO remains comfortable, being the best average player on the court. I threw up watching his halftime segment on ABC in game 2. “I’m unstoppable.” You’ve got to be kidding me. If this were a shoot out in the wild west, he’d be found dead with his gun still in his holster. SASHA: these are the best mins he’s played all season (sense the sarcasm).
    I luv him as a longtime Laker, but LUKE, if you’re not gonna shoot the ball when open, and you’re gonna turn the ball over when you pass, it’s time to go. POWELL: who’d think it possible, but he’s regressed. MCBENGA: a fan favorite…that is…favorite joke. JORDAN: Still looking like he’s trying to find a roll. After how many years? ADAM MORRISON: I would love to see him play more…with another team. SHANNON: Hate to say it, but maybe we should bring Derek off the bench, because this kid has shown to play at a higher level when starting.

  • Robert

    The ‘lame stream’ media not only wants Kobe to ‘pass the torch’ to LeCryBaby, they want to bury Kobe. Even LeBrick said “he’s one of the best players that ever played the game”. Yeah right. He is STILL playing .. it’s not over yet.
    .
    btw, I have a feeling they’re going to have to ‘break’ Kobe’s finger in the summer, in order to have it set properly. Bones do heal up after a few months, but Kobe’s is still healing (yeah, he’s using it every day, so it’s harder to heal – but it just might not be healing properly). After it heals, he’ll have the ‘bionic hand’, and next year will be his best ever — you watch.

  • lakerman1

    The hype on Lebron will start to fade if he does not hurry up and win at least 3 championships soon believe that. Kobe will always have at least four and no one will be able to take that away from him ever.

  • hoop247
  • You know

    look at ginobli last year. he looked like a scrub. He was playing through injuries. look at him at the end of this year. a bounce in his step. don’t get me wrong kobe has been aging no amazing dunks in the last few years, but as long as he ages like jordan did and picks his spots in the triangle to get midrange jumpers, which jordan mastered. and kobe is more than capable of doing. jordan did not drive the ball and attack the basket nearly as much as he did when young. i think some of you are right. he needs to get his knee right and fingers, take the first few months of the season off to get that knee cleaned and rehabilitated. we’ll see next year.