NBA Experience: 15 Years
Contract Status: Signed thru 2013-14
2011-12 Averages: 27.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.5 apg, 38.5 mpg, 43% FG, 84% FT, 30% 3PT, 1.1 SPG
If Kobe Bryant was supposed to be past his prime then he never got the memo. After undergoing an experimental procedure in Germany and staying in shape during the lockout Mamba proved he’s still the king snake of the NBA by pushing Kevin Durant to the final game of the season for the scoring crown. Kobe’s resurgence was nothing short of amazing.
Even with all of Kobe’s individual accomplishments he’s at that point in his career where success is only measured by banners.
It’s been two long years since Bryant led a championship parade through Downtown Los Angeles. That isn’t so long ago in normal years. But in Bryant years it might as well be a decade.
Let this sink in for a minute. Bryant has been in the league for 15 years and he’s been to the NBA Finals 7 times. That means, on average, every other year of his career Kobe is competing for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Safe to say that patience isn’t one of Kobe’s better qualities and for good reason.
Two straight seasons of bitter exits in the second round has made Kobe’s quest to catch Jordan all the more difficult. It’s obvious the Lakers aren’t as close to contending as they’ve been in the past. Most of that is about the roster but some of the blame falls on Bryant.
Sad to say but Kobe is officially entering the denial phase of his career where he refuses to acknowledge the reality of the situation. He’s still among the best in the game but Kobe isn’t so great he can takeover games at will any longer. A few questionable performances during crucial moments in the playoffs proved that. Kobe’s also not surrounded with the same type of talent as in the past. No matter how hard he tried to convince himself the Lakers were contenders the truth was revealed in painful fashion at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Make no mistake, the Kobe Bryant era is at the crossroads. Changes are coming and the truth is the help might not arrive until it’s too late. From where I sit the Lakers are two years away from being able to put together a true contender. No telling what kind of player Kobe will be by then. Then again, there’s nothing that guarantees Bryant will still be a Laker by then. No matter how this story ultimately ends we’ve all been and continue to be spoiled by watching perhaps the greatest Laker ever. Let that sink in for a minute…