There is always a sense of urgency on the Los Angeles Lakers team every year from first tip-off to the last game of the season. Every year the team is built, taught, and coached in a “win now” mode. This year is no different and that sense of “win now” is even more urgent than any other time I can remember. The driving force behind this Lakers team to win a championship is once again Kobe Bryant, but this year he has very good reason to be willing himself and his team to victory. You see, father time is catching up with Kobe Bryant and he is in the twilight of his storied career.
Kobe Bryant, aka the “Black Mamba” is playing his 17th season as a pro and he is guaranteed to be around for one last season. In those seventeen seasons he has played 1232 games as of today, racked up over 45,000 minutes, and is currently 5th on the All Time Leading Scorers list with 31,415 points, and this man is 34 years old. Let that all sink in for a minute. Oh wait let me also add he is shooting a near career high field goal percentage, leading shooting guards in assists per game, and is on par to become the 4th leading scorer within the next couple of games. Alright now I will give you another minute to let that all sink in. While I can be treated to see the explosive play of Lebron James, the effortless scoring barrage from Kevin Durant, and other young NBA players every night, I am still amazed to see a man who has put so much wear and tear on his body still produce at these levels.
Many consider Kobe to be in the Top 5 greatest players to ever grace any professional basketball court, he is also considered the second greatest Shooting Guard (NBA icon Michael Jordan is of course number one here). Looking upon his earned accomplisments, records, and accolades it is easy to understand why his name comes up in such conversation. Bryant has earned numerous awards in his professional career, but let me just name the highlights. He is a 5 time NBA Champion, 2 time Finals MVP, 15 time NBA All Star, 4 time All Star MVP, and has two gold Olympic Gold Medals from Beijing and London. On top of those NBA accomplisments, Kobe is considered one of, if not the greatest, to ever play for the Los Angeles Lakers organization. The Black Mamaba holds the Lakers records for: career points total, most points in a single season, most played games, and most points in a single game.
Kobe is pursuing in tying if not surpassing NBA icon Michael Jordan in rings at six; While many around the league, myself included, do not see this Lakers team even reaching the playoffs, doubters only seem to fuel the Mamba into playing at an all time high for his career. This amazing play has earned him his newest nickname, “Vino”, referring to him only getting better with age. While father time still continues to tick against Bryant’s favor, seeing one of the greatest play in basketball history play at such a level is an honor.
While Byant himself has not confirmed his retirement after his 18th season, there is a lot of doubt of him coming back for one last hurrah. The day Kobe Bean Bryant hangs up his purple and gold armor while be a day of days, as an icon and face of the NBA finally can go home and rest.0