As a veteran of the game, Kobe Bryant has seen his fair share of players adapt over the years. It’s easy to see how he’s picked up on traits from his peers and also rivals in his quest to becoming the great player that he is today.
Having recently turned 36 years old, and coming off a season where he was limited to just six games, Bryant would be wise to take measures to revamp his style of play.
The Los Angeles Lakers star guard has certainly been more open to sharing his thoughts as he’s gotten older. Him wanting to adjust his game isn’t all that surprising, but hearing him say that he looks to Paul Pierce as an example certainly is.
In his featured story with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard, Bryant touches on several topics including his age in today’s NBA game.
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.”
To be fair, Paul Pierce has always had an “old man” game in terms of his style of play. From an aesthetic point of view Pierce was never flashy or the most athletic on the court, but at his peak he was as effective as the best of them.
A true student of the game, it will be very interesting to see how Kobe incorporates the traits that he has picked up from Pierce when he returns to the court next season. Certainly he’ll be looking to return to the ball dominant player that we’ve all come to expect, but with his age and health its realistic to expect a very regressed season.
The 16-time All-Star has nothing left to prove to anyone else as his legacy is firmly intact, but the “Black Mamba” might be looking to ease his own doubts having missed almost an entire season.
In addition to his comments on Pierce, the former MVP also touched on players that he thinks highly of. His short list included two members of the Lakers past and present.
The idea of players maximizing their potential is endlessly fascinating (at least to me). Not in terms of numbers or money or rings, or greatness, but who can squeeze everything out of the natural talent they were allotted. For example, Shane Battier might be an example. Or Derek Fisher.
Asked which players have most maxed out their talent, Bryant mentioned Durant and James and then three others:
1) Steve Nash. “Steve Nash, this guy is like, everyday he’s in there working and figuring his body out. And he’s cunning. What he did when he was in Phoenix…It’s outrageous! The guy is like 6 feet maybe with platforms on, not particularly fast, but he maximized it.”
2) Steve Blake. “Blake is like a brother to me. I love Steve.”
3) Tony Allen. “A big favorite of mine. Just how he plays and what he does.”
Other News Around The League:
- University of Kentucky coach John Calipari believes the Team USA experience will be beneficial for former Wildcats DeMarcus Cousins, and Anthony Davis. Sam Amick of USA Today reports:
Right now, you look at (Davis) and say, ‘Man, in five years, he could be the best player in the NBA,’ ” Calipari said. “And this USA Basketball stuff pushes that date sooner. Again, here’s what it does for him: how to work, new things to add to his game, and confidence like, ‘These are the best in the world, so I’m all right.’ “
Calipari hopes Cousins, who made major individual strides in 2013-14 but whose Kings were just as bad as the prior season (28-54), will be the next to follow this trend.
“This thing that (USA Basketball managing director) Jerry Colangelo created, to bring like minds together, to be a part of that (is great),” Calipari said. “I saw what it did for Derrick Rose, I saw what it did for Anthony Davis and what I hope and believe will happen is that DeMarcus is going to be a 10-time All-Star from this.
“He’s going to be more mature. He’s going to understand what it means to serve and be a part of something that he has got to share. He’s going to have more of a desire to make that Olympic team in 2016, as is John Wall (who didn’t make the USA roster) and I’m hoping half of the (former Kentucky) guys we have in the league, 20-something, will have an opportunity to make that roster. It is about your country, but the other side of it is, ‘What do they take away from that?’ They take away what it means to be a pro.”
- Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Andrew Wiggins seems ready to move forward with his career. Despite being traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers last week for Kevin Love, the No. 1 overall pick from this year’s draft is embracing his new found endorsements. You can catch his latest ad for the Toronto based sports supplements company BioSteel here.
- The lifestyles of the rich and famous seem to come with a hefty price. According to TMZ, to attend the wedding of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade and his fiancé actress Gabrielle Union, guests will first have to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Esau Howard is a regular contributor to Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on twitter @EsauTheFirst.