- Faith & Family
No matter the sport, all of us can appreciate greatness. It is a word in sports that is used too often but does not always apply to any particular situation. However, when speaking of Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers we are watching a great player who should be approaching the twilight of his career at 34 years of age. We have seen it happen with many of his peers, some of them no longer in the NBA: Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady.
Or folks like Vince Carter and Grant Hill — still hanging around as shells of their former selves. What Bryant is doing is highly unusual; we have seen it in the past with Michael Jordan who was still winning championships at a similar age and Kareem Abdul Jabbar who was still a force as he approached 40. Bryant is third in the NBA in scoring and shooting the highest percentage of his career. He still has the ability to rise over defenders and throw down vicious slam dunks.
He has his younger defenders watching in awe as he hits big shot after big shot.
Greatness. That is what we are all witnessing with Bryant and we should appreciate it while we can. It is easy to recognize in other sports as well — Jerry Rice and Brett Favre in the NFL who were able to be so great for so long.
Athletes who display the will to be the best and train harder to outlast their opponent. Consider Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe in tennis or Sugar Ray Leonard in boxing who flat out refused to quit in that first fight against Thomas Hearns. Each of them possessed the desire to be the best and made the commitment to maintain that standard. Whether the Lakers make the playoffs or not this year is not the point — it is the level of play of the Black Mamba despite all of those years of wear and tear on his body.
The 17-year veteran shows few signs of slowing down but of course in the end Father Time will have his way. After all, he is still undefeated in the game of life.
The Sports Brothers, Jeff Fox & Ed Freeman, can be heard daily on WQAM 560 Sports.