Sports Out West

Kobe Bryant labels end of career ‘last chapter’

Photo by Christopher Johnson / Wikimedia Commons

Kobe Bryant in an article recently written by Lee Jenkins of SI.com, reflected on his career and labeled his last few years left in the league as the ‘Last Chapter.’

Bryant in the piece discussed an array of topic in relation to his career in the NBA. One topic he touched upon was his self-doubt about his capability to continue to play and return for a torn left Achilles tendon. But despite not knowing what kind of player he will be when he comes back, the 17-year veteran remains determined to prove that he can still play at a high level.

“I have self-doubt,” Bryant says. “I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I’m like, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it. You rise above it. … I don’t know how I’m going to come back from this injury. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll be horses—.” He pauses, as if envisioning himself as an eighth man. “Then again, maybe I won’t, because no matter what, my belief is that I’m going to figure it out. Maybe not this year or even next year, but I’m going to stay with it until I figure it out….”

He adopted a title for the next phase of his career, which will begin when rehab ends and he sticks that gold Lakers jersey back in his teeth, whether on opening night or Christmas Day or sometime in between. “It’s The Last Chapter,” Bryant says. “The book is going to close. I just haven’t determined how many pages are left.” He has no interest in a conversation about legacy. What excites him is evolution achieved through sports, each setback steeling a person for the next. “I’m reflective only in the sense that I learn to move forward,” Bryant says. “I reflect with a purpose.” Gather all his touchstones, look at them together, and they can gird the greatest player of his time for the biggest obstacle yet….

Bryant in the article also discussed the possibility that he may not be the same player as prior to the injury, but stated that he can still be at the top of his game because of his fundamentals, which he used boxer and close friend Floyd Mayweather as an example of how great fundamentals can keep an athlete at peak performance despite being up in age.

“Maybe I won’t have as much explosion,” Bryant says. “Maybe I’ll be slower. Maybe I’ll lose quickness. But I have other options. It’s like Floyd Mayweather in the ring. There’s a reason he’s still at the top after all these years. He’s the most fundamentally sound boxer of all time. He can fight myriad styles at myriad tempos. He can throw fast punches or off-speed punches, and he can throw them from odd angles.”

Bryant’s fundamentals have been for years regarded as one of the best in the league. If his body were not to allow him to be the same player he was before the injury, he will still be a very effective player because of his footwork and knowledge of the game. His game has been evolving for the past few years as he has posted up players more in the low post and is using his footwork to get to the rim or create open space for a jumper.

There is no question that he will adapt to what new situation that may arise as he will alter his game accordingly to be an effective player offensively and help his team be as successful as possible.

There may be uncertainty surrounding Bryant as continues his rehabilitation and what kind of player he will be once he makes his return to the court, but one thing is for sure and that is he has the determination and work ethic that will help him stay at a high level of performance that he desires.

Photo by Christopher Johnson / Wikimedia Commons

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.

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