Remember this? The talk of Kobe Bryant waiting till his contract runs out in 2014 and then paving the way for LeBron James to sing for the Los Angeles Lakers? Maybe he just likes messing with everyone, but the Black Mamba is now saying that his plan is to go on till the age of 40.
My aim is to play until I’m 40 years old and I believe I can do that. This year, we added very good players to our squad. Steve Nash, Dwight Howard will make us stronger. Right now, things are not going very well but I believe it’ll get better soon. During the lock-out, I had offers from Turkey and other countries. Beşiktaş was interested in me and they had talks with my agent, but I want to use the lock-out time to recover from my injuries and spend more time with my family so I turned the offers down. Who knows, maybe one day I play basketball in Turkey.
Bryant doesn’t have a set date. It all depends on his ability and how his body holds up through the rigors of the long NBA season and then the playoffs. At 34, the need to slow down and take more of a rest is greater than ever before. Bryant has said more than once that he doesn’t plan on sticking around as role player on waiting for his chance to come off the bench if it means winning more titles. He wants to win, but more than anything, he loves to win while being the main act. A starter, a star, an All-Star. Nothing else will do for Bryant.
This season, despite the Lakers’ 1-3 start, he’s had a good one. Averaging 26.8 points per game, he’s shooting 59.7% from the field and 52.9% beyond the arc. As the Lakers are trying to adjust to a new offensive system, Bryant has been mostly timid about trying to take over, although against the Clippers the Bryant of old came out.
The one that forgets about everyone else on the court and simply starts shooting and trying to win the game on his own. He finished with 14-23 from the field, but the Lakers lost. In the win over the Pistons, a game that was over before the second quarter even began, Bryant scored only 15 points. Those who love to take note only of stats and block everything else out will say that when Bryant attempts 10 field goals or less, the Lakers win. On that specific, day, there’s a good chance that Kentucky from last season would have beaten the Pistons.
But Bryant needs those days, when not just the physical wear and tear is reduced, allowing him to play 30-32 minutes instead of 35-40. There’s no pressure on him to be the main scorer, the go-to-guy. The whole plan is to erase that for the game plan. A motion offense that gives each and every player the opportunity to shoot when he gets open.
In reality, beyond theory, not having a hierarchy isn’t such a good idea. But Bryant is so far selling the system and coach Mike Brown to the media and fans. Selling he believes in it and in his team’s potential to improve with every game. A few more losses and the atmosphere is going to start feeling very different, and we’ll see the team reverting to a more familiar, Kobe-centric style.