Charting the Evolution of Kobe Bryant’s Minutes Through 2012-13 NBA Season

Kobe Bryant left the court against the Golden State Warriors the same way he came into the league: his heart in hand, drenched in sweat and a refusal to yield to his bodily limits.

For nearly two decades, the Black Mamba has played. A lot. And he's played through anything and everything. He's defied what we know about age, physical affliction and stamina in general.

Amid all that playing, that noncompliance with mortality, it hadn't truly dawned on anyone, including Bryant, how much of an exception he was. Averaging 38.6 minutes per game was, and remains, impressive. But few understood that he was just the 12th player in NBA history to log at least 38 minutes at the age of 34.

What he was doing with those minutes—27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and six assists—was unheard of. He is the oldest player in NBA history to post such marks simultaneously.

But then this—the game against the Warriors that saw Bryant go down to a ruptured Achilles injury and then attempt to play through it. 

Refusing to leave the game was vintage Kobe. Eventually conceding to it was not. It was tragic.

Strike that, it's more than a tragedy. It's more than just a gut-wrenching loss for the Los Angeles Lakers. More than yet another impediment standing between them and a playoff berth.

It's a devastating loss for the entire NBA. To see someone like Kobe, with that kind of legacy, with that kind of fight and commitment, crumble to the floor doing what he had done a million times before is execrable.

It just plain sucks.

There isn't another way to put it. When someone like Bryant, so dedicated, competitive and relentless overall, suffers an abrasion of this magnitude, it just seems unfair.

And because it's so unjust, we want to point fingers. To play the blame game. To hold someone other than Lady (Bad) Luck...

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