Kobe Bryant turned 34 Thursday. For some, it is a reminder of how far the basketball superstar has come in his long career. Others wonder just how much Bryant has left in him.
Bryant is entering his 17th season, meaning that he has spent half of his natural life playing pro basketball. His accomplishments are past impressive. He’s sitting on five NBA championships, two Finals MVPs, one regular-season MVP, four All-Star game MVPs, and a fifth-place spot on the league’s all-time scoring list. All of this has pretty much cemented Bryant into that rarefied “legendary” atmosphere.
Thing is, even though he’s closer to retirement than he is to his prime, he still plays pretty well.
His shooting game is down some, sure, but he’s still outlasted contemporaries like Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, and Vince Carter. He’s also overcome a handful of injuries in recent seasons including a bum right knee, a sprained left ankle, a torn ligament in his right wrist, post-concussion symptoms, and a fracture in his right index finger. Other players might be better or faster, but Bryant is still keeping up for the most part.
When will he be retiring? Probably not anytime soon. Recent comments from his wife notwithstanding, Joe McDonnell of FoxSportsWest says that “Unless there’s a serious injury to Bryant, or Howard can’t recover satisfactorily, this is as close to a lock as you’re going to get,” also predicting that, “Lakers will be playing the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals next June,” and “a healthy Kobe will be an MVP candidate.”
What do you think? How many seasons does Bryant have left in him? Oh, and happy birthday, Kobe! Jog on over to SLAM Online for videos of Kobe Bryant’s 34 best dunks to celebrate the occasion.