3 Reasons Kobe Bryant Won't Be as Successful Ever Again
Throughout his prestigious career, Bryant has won five NBA titles, led the league in scoring twice and was named to the All-Star team 14 times.
Those spectacular achievements don't do Bryant justice. He has been extremely valuable to the NBA, and his presence has been great for the sport.
He has been the face of the league's most famous franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers, for many of his 16 years spent there. There were times that Bryant was thought of in a negative light, but overall he has been one of the most significant players in NBA history.
The NBA is at its best when the large market teams are relevant, and Bryant, sometimes single-handedly, kept the Lakers relevant for the past 16 seasons.
Bryant's level of success is simply not sustainable, and as he ages, his production will begin to decline.
It won't be a sharp decline right away, but over the course of the next few seasons, Bryant won't be as successful as he was in the past.
Wear and Tear
The Charlotte Hornets selected Kobe Bryant with the 13th selection in the 1996 NBA Draft. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac.
In his 16 seasons, Bryant appeared in 1,161 regular season games. That is a lot of regular season basketball, and all of those games have taken a toll on him.
Bryant has already undergone multiple knee surgeries, including an experimental surgery in Germany.
It is well known that Bryant lives for the playoffs, and he has led the Lakers deep into the postseason almost every year.
Bryant has played in 215 playoff games to date, which is the equivalent of about two and a half regular seasons.
Playing in the NBA is a daily grind, a grind Bryant has been experiencing for the last 16 years.
Ultimately, every athlete loses his battle with father time. Bryant will be no different, but he should be commended for maintaining his elite level of play for so long.
The Lakers Are Declining
The Los Angeles Lakers are a team driven by their three stars, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
However, Gasol is 31 years old and isn't getting any younger. It is likely that his best basketball is already behind him.
Bryant will be entering his 17th year of his career when next season begins.
Bryant will become more reliant on his teammates as his production inevitably starts to drop. Gasol doesn't appear to be the right guy to support Bryant.
Bynum is already one of the best centers in the NBA, but struggles to dominate games on a nightly basis. Until Bynum becomes more consistent and focused, their will be questions about whether or not he can carry the Lakers.
Outside of that trio, the Lakers don't have much to get excited about. They traded for point guard Ramon Sessions earlier this season, but will need to sign him to a long-term extension in the offseason if they hope to retain him.
Bryant has been of the greatest winners in NBA history, but he won't close out his career winning games unless the Lakers find a way to improve their roster.
The Younger Stars Will Beat Him
Bryant has been exceptional for a long time and has kept other great players from winning championships.
In the upcoming seasons, Bryant's attempts for a sixth ring will be thwarted by other superstars.
Young teams, like the Oklahoma City Thunder and rival Los Angeles Clippers, will make life difficult for an aging Bryant in the upcoming years.
The Thunder are currently standing in the way of the Lakers, as the two teams will meet in the second round of the playoffs. This could be the first of many playoff defeats that Bryant will suffer to younger teams as he reaches the end of his career.
Eastern Conference stars like Rose, James and Dwyane Wade promise to pose a serious threat for Bryant if his Los Angeles Lakers are able to win the Western conference.
Bryant has been so successful that even good performances tend to be disappointments. The bar has been set so high that Bryant won't be able to get over it.