At 34 years old, Bryant is playing at an elite level. He is still the leader of the Los Angeles Lakers, he can still score on anybody in the league and he is still knocking down shots normal humans can only dream about.
His game remains iso-heavy and methodical, but that doesn’t mean he can’t light up the score board with awe-dropping highlights.
The problem for opposing defenses is that Bryant’s prime has lasted about as long as anybody’s in NBA history. His athleticism may not be what it once was, but he can still challenge defenders—his confidence grows as the difficulty of each shot increases.
In the Lakers’ season-opening matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, Bryant showed incredible efficiency as he shot 11-of-14 and finished with 22 points.
In case you’re thinking every shot was easy, check the highlight. Vince Carter may not be known for his defense, but he did an excellent job of disrupting the vision of the Lakers superstar.
But like the old adage goes: good defense, better offense.
Bryant’s never been known as the most physical player, but he has an uncanny ability to draw contact and know exactly where the ball needs to be when it leaves his hands.
Even with his athleticism supposedly disappearing, Bryant had the body control to twist, turn and throw the shot at the rim despite the 6’7”, 260-pound frame of Jason Maxiell obstructing his vision of the basket.
Now begins the part of the show where Bryant starts taking his aggressions out on the Houston Rockets.
In this clip, we once again get to see what Bryant can do with a hand in his face out on the perimeter. The 2-guard has never been known as a deadly three-point shooter, but one area where he is completely lethal is in one-on-one situations.
It doesn’t matter if Bryant is at the top of the key or stuck in the corner, if he gets a defender in the air, good things happen for the Lakers.
One thing Bryant has become known for throughout his career is turning a bad situation into points. In times of adversity, few players want the ball in their hands as badly as he does.
After making a mistake, Bryant wants to redeem himself, which is exactly what he did against Houston. A beautiful ball fake and a drive down the lane earned him a look at the rim, and he took advantage despite Omer Asik waiting for him.
Bryant also re-introduced himself to Jeremy Lin this season as he two-stepped straight through him en route to a three-point opportunity.
Is there any play in the NBA that takes the wind out of a home crowd more than a four-point play?
Bryant has a tendency to silence opposing arenas, and even he had to break his serious persona and smile against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
There are no words to describe the shot shown above. Click play and enjoy.
In case you haven’t caught on to the theme yet, Bryant has a tendency to make tough shots.
Against the Cleveland Cavaliers, two defenders couldn’t stop Bryant from twisting in the air and using the glass to his advantage. Cleveland could have brought over two more defenders and the superstar probably would have been just as comfortable throwing it up and watching it drop.
At 34 years old, Bryant’s go-to moves can be found in the mid-range game, but he’s shown us that he can still get up as we move through the 2012-13 season.
Zach Randolph has never been known for his leaping ability, and Bryant took full advantage of that when he beat his defender off the dribble against the Memphis Grizzlies.
As of 2012, Bryant has become the newest member of the exclusive “Lakers Hook-Shot Club.”
This shot against the New York Knicks wasn’t his only successful hook shot in the 2012-13 season, but it is the one that garnered the most attention, as it was on national television at Madison Square Garden.
Bryant’s been known as a clutch performer throughout his career, and while this shot against New York proved to be too little too late, it helped make the contest interesting.
The most ridiculous part about this play is that Bryant actually makes it look easy. His effortless fade away is one of his best assets, and that’s what he’s put on display for so many years.
Bryant may be getting older, but he is having one of his best seasons to date. As long as he’s on top of his game, he’s going to remain in the highlights, and he’s going to continue proving that age means nothing when you’re one of the league’s best scorers.