Monday, May 24, 2010

Im Old, Remember?

In 1996, I was nine years old, going on ten, and enjoying the summer before starting my fifth grade school year. In the summer of 1996, Kobe Bryant was 17 years old poised to be drafted 13th overall in the NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets, and then traded to the LA Lakers for Vlade Divac. Kobe and I were leading completely different paths in life, I was studying math, science and geography, while Kobe was studying tape of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. While I was selling lemonade on the corner and washing the neighbors cars, Kobe was negotiating a multi-million dollar contract with the Lakers and another one with Adidas. But what neither of us realized was Kobe would fuel my life long love and obsession with the game of basketball, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

I always have and always will defend Kobe Bryant, through thick and thin. When Del Harris gave Kobe Bryant only 15.5 minutes per game his rookie season, I was calling for his head (yes, I was a nine-year-old calling for someone's head). When Kobe shot the three air balls against Utah in the 1996 playoffs, I said at least he had the "you know what's" to take those shots. When Shaq blamed Kobe, I blamed Shaq. When the incident in Colorado took place, I couldn't and wouldn't believe it. When Kobe publicly criticized Andrew Bynum and asked for a trade, I hoped and prayed Jerry Buss would ship Bynum out. When people would say Kobe can't win without Shaq, i would argue that Jordan didnt win without Pippen. When absolutely everybody was saying that Kobe was too old to take a team on his back and will them to victory, I laughed and thought to myself, "just wait".

The one comment that really irked me was when people were saying that Kobe Bryant was too old. Too Old? Kobe Bryant is one of the hardest working players the NBA has ever seen. He is in fantastic condition and is only 31 years old. Then I remembered just how old 31 years can be in professional sports, so I decided that I would do some research to see just how OLD Kobe Bryant really is.

Years in the NBA: 14 and counting
Total Games Played (Including All-Star, Olympic, and Playoffs): 1,231
Total Minutes Played: 46,554
Total Miles Traveled:
Regular season (road games, too and from): about 46,795,560
Playoffs (road games, too and from): about 113,967
Olympics (Beijing and back): 12,196
That brings Kobe to a total of around 46,921,723 total miles traveled throughout his basketball career. And he's not done yet.

Looking back at those numbers, I can't imagine how number 24 is still playing at such a high level. If it were me, my right arm, and both of my legs would no longer be attached to my body. It really is a true testament to how tough Kobe Bryant is both mentally and physically. You can doubt whoever and whatever you want, but be careful when you doubt the Black Mamba, because he is always poised to strike.

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