During halftime of a NBA on ABC Sunday special in December, the network aired an interview of Michael Wilbon sitting down with Kobe Bryant. Wilbon’s last question was “Kobe, do you ever think about the end?”
“Oh sure,” Bryant replied.
Wilbon’s follow up question was even more pressing than the first: “When you think about it, what pops into your head?”
“Damn…what am I gonna do?” Kobe said with a snicker. “Really, really what I am gonna do…you get closer and closer to the end of the tunnel and you just know…[the end] is not around the corner but it’s down the street.”
It’s undeniable Kobe is not the player he once was. And to be honest, I genuinely don’t know how I’m going to cope with the Black Mamba’s inevitable decline.
I always hear the saying, there are two things guaranteed in life: death and taxes. Allow me to add a third item to that list, the rise and fall of any entertainer. While Kobe may be one of the most enduring players in the league, father time doesn’t treat #24 any different than the rest of us.
Heading into the upcoming season, whenever it starts, Kobe will have played a combined total of 1,103 games and 40, 145 minutes during the regular season. He’s second all-time in playoff minutes, logging 8,165. He played an additional 18 international games for team USA between 2007-2008. All in all, he’s played the equivalent of 16 NBA seasons.
With the news of Bryant undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy in Germany, one can only wonder how many chinks can surface in Kobe’s armor before he’s no longer the same knight.
Next: The Inevitable Decline