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Report: Kobe Bryant studying Paul Pierce on how to adapt game as he ages

Aug 28, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant

Paul Pierce’s gets to the elbows and once there unleashes an old-man-at-the-YMCA game on his opponents, getting off an array of crafty shots that seem to always find the bottom of the net. He’s evolved that part of his game over the years. That game has started to slip (he turns 37 this October) but he still is an above average player and a guy who can make contested shots. The kind you have to hit in the playoffs. Which is why the Wizards picked him up.

Kobe Bryant knows he’s not going to be the same kind of player now that he was pre-injury and a few years back. He has evolved his game as he has aged and that process takes on new meaning now coming back from Achilles and knee surgeries.

Chris Ballard’s brilliant profile of Bryant at Sports Illustrated (and related pieces) is the gift that keeps on giving with great anecdotes thrown in, including how long-time Laker Kobe is studying long-time Celtic Pierce and how his game changed. (Hat tip James Herbert Eye on Basketball.)

In preparing for this season, Bryant told friends that the player he is analyzing, as an example of adjusting your game as you get older, is fellow 36-year-old Paul Pierce. This is part of his goal to become “more efficient” on the court.

Said Bryant, “I’m going to max [my last two years] out too, to do whatever I can. Leave no stone unturned, no water left in the sponge.”

There will be a lot of eyes on Kobe this season, which is why he and the Lakers are playing on opening night (that and television ratings). We all want to see just what Kobe still has in the tank, what he can do this season.

My guess is he is still going to be a good player. Maybe not the guy he was three years ago, but still a guy you have to game plan for, a guy who can make plays, and a guy who will lead this team.

His problem is there is nobody else to really fear on that roster and this Kobe (in this deep Western Conference) can’t lift this team as high as he believes he can.

  1. ProBasketballPundit - Aug 28, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    In the last month there’s been 400 Cavaliers articles, 250 Kobe articles, and 1 Spurs article. I mean does the NBA champion seriously not rate on this site?

    But seriously why do we need this many Kobe articles? Oh and allow me to pre-respond for all you rubes, “Well you clicked on it and you commented on it.” Ah yes, you know everything. Consider me proven wrong.

    • raylewisandhisteeth - Aug 28, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      The Spurs, like their game style, is boring. Don’t get me wrong, they are good, but I don’t want to read a bunch of stories on how Duncan and Parker had a great pick and roll session.

      • spursareold - Aug 28, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        Wait a minute: you find the ball whizzing all over the court boring? Pre-2007, you probably had a case, when the offense was “dump it in to Duncan”, but if you find that boring, perhaps you should watch another sport.

        ISOs are boring, watching someone dribble the ball into the ground.

      • timberwolvesbrisin - Aug 28, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        The spurs dont play a “boring” style, but in my opinion theyre just exremely boring, like id rather watch a Magic game than a Spurs any day. It is a matter of personal tatse, and most people are bored by the Spurs, whether they should or not isnt the issue.

    • mackcarrington - Aug 28, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      How many stories do you expect to get on Kawhi Leonard when he doesn’t speak?

      • elecblues - Aug 30, 2014 at 2:31 AM

        I think the reason why Kawhi doesn’t speak much is because when all is said and done, what is said is less important than what is done.

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 28, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      What would they write about the Spurs? They return the same team, they don’t talk to the media… there isn’t much to write about… they’re going to be the best team in the NBA again… that’s really all you can write about, but everyone already knows that.

    • kobeoverlebron - Aug 28, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      the Spurs are great but they dont care for interviews they fly under the radar untill playoffs come very smart avoid all media outlets

    • toycannoni - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      the spurs are old and done….. they had a nice 3 game run at the end of the season but their time in the spotlight are done

      no way they win the west again and let’s face it, after the cavs play enough games to get on the same page, no one except the thunder (with a healthy westbrook) will be able to compete on the same level

      you can cry and whine all you want but the GOAT will be in his 5th consecutive finals match….book it

      • oslo23 - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        you’re trolling is too obvious; if you want people to bite, make it more subtle, dont try too hard

    • mytthor - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      It’s called news. It’s not just a profile of who’s important in the league. You want 50 spurs articles saying “nothing new has happened, but the Spurs are still a great organization who won the title?”

  2. spursareold - Aug 28, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    I actually DGAF if they’re not in the news in the offseason. That means all is well. I liked Simmons take: there were 29 teams waiting with bated breath to see what LeBron would do, and then there were the Spurs. : )

  3. loungefly74 - Aug 28, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    it will be fun to see how my favorite player reacts coming back from surgery. watching kobe play all these years on my team has been a blessing. but yeah, i am hoping for a higher FG%!!!!!

  4. themars211 - Aug 28, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Change, adapt, evolve, and that’s how you stay elite for 20 years. After LeBron retires we might never see it again.

    • oslo23 - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      how so? Players are getting smarter all the time with the information given to them through technology and other tools….I’d think the opposite, we could see more and more

      • themars211 - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        With High School kids not being allowed to enter the draft right away for starters. Secondly it takes a lot of dedication, focus and drive to want to be this good all the time. Lastly its one thing for a big man with skills to hang around for a long time, but for a wing player to do it and remain at a high level its actually a bit harder considering the natural decline in speed and reflexes.

  5. therealhtj - Aug 28, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    It’s really not the same thing is it? Pierce has pretty much played that old man game his entire career. And to say he’s looking at a dude 1 year older to see how to gracefully age his game is pompous nonsense.

    Look at Dirk and Duncan maybe, primarily from a contract perspective.

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 28, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      Dirk and Duncan aren’t perimeter players

    • arrondior - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      1. He is saying that Pierce’s style of play would be good for him due to his injuries.
      2. Paul Pierce’s style of play has absolutely changed. Hit up youtube.
      3. Duncan and Dirk are not guards…

      • therealhtj - Aug 28, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        1. If the best they get out of Kobe is a current-day version of Paul Pierce, they should use the stretch on him next year.
        2. Pierce was never a high-fly act, he’s only become more earthbound as the years have gone on.
        3. Dirk and Duncan may not be guards, but they’ve cut weight and their workload. Salaries, notwithstanding, Kobe gunning away for all-time scoring marks is no way for he or his team to go out.

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:14 PM

        Kobe has been cutting weight for over 7 years… Dirk and Duncan have been cutting workloads because they can defer to guys like Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, etc… who do you suggest Kobe defer to to cut his workload? Nick Young? We’ll see how Julius Randle does but it’s not like the Lakers are boasting a roster like the Mavs or Spurs.

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        @ the real

        thing is, the Lakers won’t contend next season either, so get rid of ALL the money on Kobe’s contract next season rather than spread over $8 million out over 3 seasons…

        i mean if they were $8 million away from contending (getting the final piece for that amount), then do it…

        Either pay $25 million next season and be done or

        pay $8.3 million in 15/16 season

        pay $8.3 million in 16/17 season

        pay $8.3 million in 17/18 season

        A team that is winning but has no cap room should use the stretch.

        the Lakers chose NOT to stretch Nash this season and that was the right call because the Lakers won’t contend this year so they should get all $9.7 on his deal out this season.

        the Lakers won’t contend next season so they should start fresh with lots of money in the summer of 16

  6. stayhigh_247 - Aug 28, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    My fear is if the team starts to falter, he will revert to his old ways and try to do too much. If he can defer then it can work. In the half court they should be ok with Boozer and Kobe’s old man prowess, and Swaggy P, J Linn and Randle on the break, Scott has to manage Kobes minutes and fans need to be realistic, this team probably wouldn’t win much in the east either.

    • sportsfan18 - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      IF the team starts to falter?

      30 seconds into game 1 of the regular season is when that will begin to happen…

      Even so, I do predict a good improvement for the Lakers this season. They’ll win 7 to 10 more games this year than last season.

      Winning 10 more games from the previous year isn’t that easy to do…

      34 to 37 wins this year…

  7. billtetley53 - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    I hope they wind up with the #6 pick in the draft.

    • therealhtj - Aug 28, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      ^^Dbag who claims to not be a Celtics Homer^^

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      They don’t have a draft pick next year, the Suns do.

      • blogsk3tball - Aug 28, 2014 at 10:08 PM

        Think its top 3 protected. Might be our lucky year. Gilbert can’t get first pick from the top of the east!… Can he?

  8. mazblast - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    ” He has evolved his game as he has aged”

    In what way? He still plays 1-on-5, throws up bricks, and whines to the refs when he doesn’t get free throws every time someone comes within six feet of him. The only evolution I’ve seen is that he’s turned invisible on the defensive end.

  9. themars211 - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    You guys remind of the Chappelle show skits about the Haters club…lmao and I quote “hate hate hate hate”….lmao

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:35 AM


      Player haters ball!

  10. themars211 - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:11 PM

  11. csbanter - Aug 28, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    Every one keeps talking about Pierce and his old man game, Pierce plays the same way now as he did as a young player. It’s called being consistent. Watching Kobe play in recent years you seen the change taking place. He pulled up for more mid range jumpers, and took it to the rim accordingly.

  12. skins26portis - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:35 AM

    So in other words Kobe and the Lakers are going to suck again. Go Clippers.

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