Kobe Bryant’s Passing Is the Next Step in His Battle to Defeat Father Time

Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history.

With five NBA championships, multiple scoring titles, an NBA MVP, two Finals MVPs and an 81-point game, he's a statistical giant. 

He's also a lockdown perimeter defender who takes pride in shutting down his man. He's a creative passer. He's an underrated rebounder. He's a long-range marksman, mid-range savant and tough finisher at the rim. 

There's very little he can't do, and he's always tackling his weaknesses in the offseason. 

But 2014 Kobe is no longer durable enough to carry an offense for an entire season. At 36 years old, he's well beyond his peak and burdened by an injury-riddled lower body. 

That's why ball movement will be the next evolution in his game. 

This doesn't mean opposing offenses no longer respect him. In 2012-2013, his last full season on the court, Kobe shot 46.3 percent from the field—only 0.6 percentage points off his career best—while still pouring in 27.3 points per game. 

Unlike previous years, however, Bryant was able to use the threat of his individual offense to boost the play of his team through passing. His rap has always been one of straddling the line of greatness and selfishness, with his volume shooting alienating teammates and distracting from team play. 

Not that it isn't at least partially understandable: Bryant has posted a record of 81-39 in his 40-plus-point games in the regular season over the course of his career, according to NBA.com, which is equivalent to 55 wins during the span of a single season. 

It's just that he's no longer capable of mustering such performances with any kind of frequency. He's "only" done it eight times in the last two full seasons, compared to nine times in 2009-10. 

Very few players have ever resisted Father Time as well as Kobe has, if only because h...

About the Author