Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kobe Crafting on the Beach

Image via Wikipedia
Kobe Bryant was refining his talents in South Beach.

Following last week's much-hyped game against the Miami Heat, Kobe Bryant decided to shoot some extra shots and work from different spots in AmericanAirlines Arena.  He didn't shoot well (8-21) against Miami, a team that boasts arguably the two best wing players in the league, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade.  Instead of crying about it (My ever-so-subtle shot as Chris Bosh.  Warning:  There may be more.), Kobe practiced right on The King's court, shirking his responsibilities as a pampered superstar to go out and party in beautiful Miami.  The dude is more than halfway between 32 and 33 years old, with over 47,000 minutes played on an NBA court.  His athletic ability has declined about as much as ticket sales for the Heat increased this summer, yet he continues to work on his game, trying to stay on par with the young guns in the league.

"It's my job," he said.  But he's made more money doing this job than most will make in their lifetime of jobs.  He's proven everything that he possibly could prove.  He's won, won without Shaq, won scoring titles, set records, won an MVP, accumulated massive career stats, scored 81 points against a team led by the great Chris Bosh (Okay, I'm done), etc.  It's not because it's his job; it's because it's his craft.

Even in decline, he's looking for ways to defeat father time (Kobe counts Greg Oden as his biggest fan).  He can't accelerate around defenders and finish with dunks like he used to, so he works on his skill-set, which he'll rely on in games to create space for his shots.  He'll make defenders move one way so it's easier for Kobe to move the opposite way.  All of this adds to his longevity.  With all the accomplishments listed above, it's clear that Kobe loves basketball.  He loves it. 

I don't know what this makes Kobe.  I don't think we get much insight into who he is as a human being.  Just because he loves basketball doesn't mean we can say "Kobe is the best!" when that goes against rational observation and empirical data.  Even as a Lakers fan who is appreciative of all the great times Kobe has given my team, I know he isn't the best in the game anymore.  He may never have been the clear-cut best in the game.   

I think we need to appreciate the man's dedication to his craft though.  The 47,000 minutes he's been here thus far is because of the minutes he's spent on the beach....                     

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