1. Michael Jordan –Chicago Bulls – 1997-98 Season – Age: 35
28.7 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists per game, 25.2 PER
At age 35, Jordan accomplished everything you can possible imagine in what worked out being his last season in Chicago. Jordan won the MVP triple crown by winning the All-Star Game MVP, regular season MVP and NBA Finals MVP. Jordan also led the league in scoring with his 28.7 points per game average and improved on that by scoring 32.4 per game in the playoffs. Jordan’s season was nearly perfect and remarkable for a player at any age, let alone 35.
Jordan retired the following season during the lock out that was imposed by the owners, but it was obvious that even at the age of 35 he was still at the top of his game and the best player in the league. Jordan made a mini comeback 3 seasons later with the Washington Wizards and was still effective in his late 30s, but nowhere near the dominant player that we all had grown accustomed to during his career.
These 5 perimeter players have set the bar for production at the age of 35 plus in the NBA. They went the distance with Father Time and had him on the ropes. It is exactly what Kobe Bryant will strive to do this season as a 35 year old. Knowing his competitive spirit, he’ll try to shatter what anybody else has done at this age. That is going to be a mighty tall task even for Kobe as Jordan’s season in 97-98 was nearly perfect.
In order for Kobe to match it, he’d have to come close to repeating last season’s production, win MVP honors in both the regular season and Finals, and hold up the Larry O’ Brian trophy when it is all said and done. Based on everything we know about the Lakers roster this coming season and the strength of the other NBA teams vying for the ring, Kobe accomplishing all or even any of Jordan’s accomplishments at age 35 will be nearly impossible.
The bar being set at nearly impossible, well,Kobe wouldn’t have it any other way.
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