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“I’m too old for that, man” — when Kobe Bryant gave up on defense during the twilight years of his career

Kobe Bryant once told fans sitting courtside in Madison Square Garden that he just wanted to chill because he was too old to get back on defense.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

One of the biggest reasons why NBA legend Kobe Bryant is appointed as one of the top two shooting guards of all time (next to Michael Jordan) is his ability to play on both sides of the court.

Not only was Bryant a phenomenal and complete offensive player but also a lockdown defender, especially during his prime years. After all, Bryant made the All-Defensive NBA teams 12 times during his career — an accomplishment that doesn’t get talked about so much.

However, as Bryant was winding down and riding out the last year of his career, he was far from the player that defined his legacy. His 20th and final year with the Los Angeles Lakers was just all about him making it through his retirement tour after suffering multiple season-ending injuries in the prior years. As his physical abilities were slowly depreciating in his twilight year, so was his focus on getting back on defense.

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No such thing as eternal energy

When Bryant played his last game against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, several fans were jokingly calling him out for his noticeably lackluster effort on defense. Bryant, who still put up 18 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists, and a losing effort in the same game, just laughed a long and admitted that he no longer had the legs.

As rightfully funny as this moment was, it unfortunately also depicted Bryant’s last few years in the league. Since the Achilles injury he suffered in 2013, the Black Mamba was no longer the same player as there was a noticeable massive difference in his athleticism and movements on the court. It didn’t help that Kobe also suffered more season-ending injuries after his brutal Achilles injury.

Father Time 

Since Bryant’s body was filled with so much mileage from his storied long career, it made sense why his body eventually wore down in the twilight era of his career. The same scenario also happened with Jordan, who was no longer the same player when he finished his career with the Washington Wizards. As great Bryant and Jordan were, father time eventually caught up to them and proved why it’s undefeated.

Luckily for this generation, they have several new technological advancements and machines to take care of and preserve their body — something that wasn’t as available back in the day. As much as we’d hope that Jordan and Bryant played longer, at the very least, at least they gave us a lot of memories to look back on and appreciate. 

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