Even the greatest athletes lose some of their abilities as they age -- just ask anyone who saw Michael Jordan play for the Wizards. He was still good, yes, but it was nothing like watching Jordan in his prime.
At age 36, Lakers star Kobe Bryant realizes he’s not the ultra-explosive 24-year-old he once was either. In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard, Bryant admitted he’ll have to fine-tune certain parts of his game to make up for his aging body.
From Ballard’s piece:
“There are certain things that my body can't do that I used to be able to do,” Bryant admits. “And you have to be able to deal with those. First you have to be able to figure out what those are. Last year when I came back, I was trying to figure out what changed. And that's a very hard conversation to have.” Bryant pauses. “So when I hear the pundits and people talk, saying, ‘Well, he won't be what he was.' Know what? You're right! I won't be. But just because something evolves, it doesn't make it any less better than it was before.”
“I'll be sharper,” he says. “Much sharper. Much more efficient in areas. I'll be limited in terms of what you see me do, versus a couple years ago. But very, very methodical, very, very purposeful.”
Bryant told Ballard he’ll be looking at how another aging superstar – Paul Pierce – has evolved his game as he's aged:
“In preparing for this season, Bryant told friends that the player he is analyzing, as an example of adjusting your game as you get older, is fellow 36-year-old Paul Pierce. This is part of his goal to become “more efficient” on the court.
Said Bryant, “I’m going to max [my last two years] out too, to do whatever I can. Leave no stone unturned, no water left in the sponge.”
If Kobe can stay healthy, I don’t doubt one bit that he’ll be able to tweak his game to stay effective. Kobe has shown time and time again that if anyone is willing to work hard to achieve a goal, it’s him.