There are very few things Kobe Bryant has not accomplished during his 15 years in the NBA. The Lower Merion High School product has won five championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards and a regular season MVP and he has been named to numerous All-NBA and All-Star teams.
But now that Kobe is entering the twilight of his career, is there any unfinished business the future Hall of Famer needs to complete before retirement?
Here are five things Kobe should focus on accomplishing before his No. 24 jersey is hung in the rafters at Staples Center.
As strange as it is to imagine, Kobe Bryant is not going to be the Los Angeles Lakers’ best player forever. Eventually, the Lakers will have to think about bringing in another superstar who will eventually take Kobe’s place as the team's alpha dog.
Kobe’s successor will likely be acquired before Bryant has retired, considering the Lakers aren’t necessarily a franchise known for going through rebuilding phases.
When the time comes, Kobe needs to greet this player with open arms and accept that he is no longer the best player on the team. If Kobe properly grooms and works well with his successor, he could potentially change the minds of fans who have always thought of him as a selfish, “me-first” player.
I am very interested to see how Kobe will mesh playing for a coach not named Phil Jackson. Even though Jackson is widely considered to be the greatest coach of all time, he and Kobe didn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye during their 11 years together.
But Kobe has come along way since then, reshaping the immature image he sometimes portrayed earlier in his career.
Let’s just hope the last few years of Kobe’s career aren’t remembered for him not getting along with his head coach.
One would be hard-pressed to find an NBA player, past or present, who has achieved as much on the basketball court and been criticized as much in the process as Kobe Bryant has.
Whether all or any of the criticism has been warranted is an argument for a different day, but considering Kobe has received so much criticism throughout his career, it would be nice to see people appreciate what he has done and what he will continue to do on the basketball court before he retires.
I would hate for fans who consistently criticize Kobe not to realize just how special he is until after he stops playing.
Enjoy him while you can.
With all of the talk of Kobe Bryant being “too old” to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to another championship, wouldn’t it be great for the five-time champion to add another MVP award to his trophy case?
It could happen too. Let’s say the Lakers bounce back next season, after their humiliating defeat in the playoffs, and finish the season with the best record in the Western Conference, with Kobe being one of the top three scorers in the league.
If this theoretical scenario did play out, Kobe would likely be the favorite for the Maurice Podoloff trophy.
Kobe Bryant has already won five championships, just as many as Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won wearing purple and gold.
If Kobe were to retire tomorrow, nobody would sneeze at his five rings. But if he were somehow able to win one more, it would make it that much easier to argue Kobe as one of the greatest of all time.