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Kobe’s Dad says he has three-to-five years left

Jun 18, 2011, 10:01 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three Getty Images

Kobe is slowing down. It’s obvious. He’ll be 33 next season and he’s not as explosive as he once was. It is a credit to Kobe that his numbers — shooting percentage, PER, points per game, whatever ones you want — don’t really show the decline. You only see it in that he took 3.5 shots at the rim per game last season, down from 5.1 a game three years ago. Although part of that is last season Phil Jackson cut down his minutes per game to the lowest since his sophomore campaign (but still almost 34 a game).

His knees are low on cartilage. His fingers bend at weird angles. How much longer can he go, performing at a reasonably high level?

About three-to-five years, his father Joe (a Sparks coach in the WNBA) told Mark Medina at the Los Angeles Times.

You can’t put it on age. All players have injuries, even young players have injuries. You learn to deal with pain and you learn how to understand your body. You also understand your game. When you’re a student of the game, a lot of players rely on their athleticism. Once you get older and their athleticism is not there, then you don’t know how to play. But Kobe knows how to play and understands the ABC’s of the game. He understands the scouting report and how players are going to play and he understands his teammates. When you understand the game, it goes back to playing chess. You know how to move the pieces and you know how to move the ball…

All players have injuries. It’s part of it and how he can manage it. He’s been doing a good job with that. Nobody is going to run and jump [like] when they were 18 or 19. It’s impossible for people to think that. As long as he’s enjoying the game and keeps the two seven-footers [Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum], I still think he has three, four or five more years to play at a high level…

The issue is going to be when the media talks, he can’t get 30 [points] anymore, but he’s averaging 25 [points] and five [assists]. The expectations they’ll put on him or say he can’t do anymore, that’s going to be the biggest challenge, dealing with it. The important thing is as long as he’s enjoying the game and enjoying the challenge and still in the race to vie for a championship. That’s motivation enough. If you’re with a team that has no shot at making the playoffs, then mentally you’re going to be down and the energy level isn’t going to be up or you’re going to want to be traded. As long as he’s enjoying the game and it’s a challenge for him, I think he’ll continue to play.

As for what Kobe thinks of new Lakers coach Mike Brown… Kobe’s dad isn’t talking either. But in the end, Brown is the coach and if Kobe wants another ring he has to be on board and everybody has to row the same way or it’s not happening. Kobe knows that, too.

  1. cosanostra71 - Jun 18, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    Kobe is such a fundamentally strong and intelligent player that he’ll be able to play at a high level until he retires… Even at the very end he should be able to contribute to a team like Jason Kidd did this year… he may not make it to 40 like Kidd likely will, but he’ll still be a contributor.

    • lakesidelakersfan - Jun 18, 2011 at 6:52 PM

      Kobe has 14 seasons on his knees, so it’s time for him to be the smart player he has grown into and spread the “crunchtime” point responsibility to the amply options that the Lakers have in there 2 forwards. (assuming they start Odom over Artest, if Ron is still a Laker) Kobe’s first step to the hole is now just average. With arguably the best front court in the NBA, (It’s time for Andrew to dominate) the in & out game should produce more open looks than Kobe has seen since he used to make them for himself.

  2. Justin - Jun 18, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    I think a lot can depend on a players ego as well. Does he have to be the leading scorer and the main guy? I think that is why Kidd has lasted so long. He doesn’t care about the box score. The biggest worry I have with Kobe is if the media criticizes him for not scoring more he will try to take the game over and put up stupid shots. I hope not because it would be a shame because I want kobe to play for a lot longer.

  3. ocgunslinger - Jun 18, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Anybody who really has watched Kobe over the years has seen a tremendous amount of growth….not just in the maturity of his game play but in his approach to team play. That took a few years. He is one of the smartest players in the game, knows his body and recognizes how to be the best he can be along with meshing with his team. This guy is going to continue to be one of the best because of his understanding of the game.

  4. cordae - Jun 18, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Non Kobe fan here lol

    But he is one of the FEW players that can and will last for a while longer because of his passion for the game. Call him all the names you want but he is one of the few SUPERSTARS who still has a natural love for the game. you can see it in his play, his work ethic, hell even in his interviews. He never feels like hes good enough, and that theres always room for improvement. Thats a trait you just cant coach, or rarely even come across in a player in any sport. Hes going to be around a little longer. The lakers are going to draft another premier perimeter player in the next few years, who’s better (in the league) to mentor him?…

  5. randysavage4ever - Jun 18, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    When Kobe loses his athleticism he can still rely on his post game and fade away a la Michael Jordan…

    Kobe can also shoot, so he will still be able to score always…he’s got the size to post up and shoot over you

    • louistaylored - Jun 19, 2011 at 2:23 PM

      Yeah, ummmm he kinda already does this haha. He has one of the sickest mid-range games ever. The majority of his shots are from the post and his fade away is kinda one of the best shots we have in the NBA. Just saying, he lost that athleticism awhile ago cause as you can see he’s not throwing it down every possession anymore.

  6. thetooloftools - Jun 18, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    Kobe is a stone KILLA. He will be gone when he no longer can perform at the highest level. Buit he can also adjust his game. I have never seen a player so dedicated to winning and that includes Michael Jordan. I think Kobe is going to Love Mike Brown if he gives him a chance. I still think he should have been consulted but they know he would have wanted Brian Shaw so that would have made it worse. I look for some coasting during the season and then when the playoffs start you amp up your game. The NBA season is too long and too tough on the bodies of elite players.

  7. goforthanddie - Jun 18, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    I don’t question Kobe’s ability to adapt his game to his body, it’s a matter of keeping his body on the court. He’s played 15 regular seasons, another 2.5 seasons’ worth of playoff games, plus international games; at some point his body will give out.
    Reducing his minutes per game is good, talking him into taking games off would be better. Problem 1: Will Kobe accept the fact that sitting down in the regular season makes him better in the playoffs? Problem 2: Can the Lakers afford to be Kobe-less often enough to make it worthwhile?
    I also can’t see Kobe going out like Shaq and so many others, hanging on well past their expiration date. He doesn’t need money, he doesn’t need to chase titles.

  8. hknowlton1 - Jun 18, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    His dad is absolutely correct Kobe is solubly and no championships left for the Lakers!!!

  9. thesaint23 - Jun 18, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    kobe is one of the greatest players of all time!

    5 NBA titles and 1 Gold Medal (which the team might not have won if he had not taken over the game at the end)!

    unlike “the queen” who has choked in 2 nba finals and quit on his teams in other playoff games – kobe has a no take prisoners mentality which has helped come through in the big games and helped him cement his legacy as one of the great players in nba history.

    God Bless George W. Bush and Kobe Bryant.

    • damp1015 - Jun 19, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      One of the best indeed, but I do not think we should praise him that well. No matter how many rings Kobe has, being a rapist overshadows that in my mind. And for the guy above stating Kobe is more determined than Jordan, really? And in terms of Lebron James, he is almost there. Kobe had help to get the rings, Lebron just got help. Kobe is not one of those players who can carry the team on his shoulders entirely. He needs his supporting cast, especially the Twin Towers, otherwise people would kill the paint, cause if that happened, Kobe’s shots would seem just like any others. It is the hardwork of his teammates that make him look as good as he does.

      Don’t get me wrong, he is one of the best, but the best are created with the help of their teammates. No one strives alone!

  10. passerby23 - Jun 18, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    Shooting guards – who tend to rely more on athleticism and speed – can get old really fast. Look at Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, T-Mac, etc. Kobe has evolved his game as he’s gotten older and incorporated a more proficient mid-range and post-up game, but he’s got a bad wheel, lingering injuries, and a lot of miles. I think he’s got 2-3 more years tops of playing at a high level.

    Jason Kidd has become purely a distributor who makes open 3’s, not something Kobe will evolve into. When a scoring SG can’t create his shot anymore, that’s it. I don’t think you’ll see Kobe become a journeyman bouncing from team to team late in his career trying to win another championship. I think he’ll ride out on his own terms.

  11. dogsweat1 - Jun 19, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    Trade Kobe for Howard…

  12. jizzojames - Jun 20, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    I don’t agree or disagree with this post, but It would be great to see Kobe play for the next 3-5 years. He means alot to the game of basketball today, and I don’t think the league wants him to go. He’s a true talent, and one of the greats.

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