Father Time is the most dominant force in sports. He has more wins than the Harlem Globetrotters, more championships than the New York Yankees and although he doesn’t have as many commercials on television as Peyton Manning -he’s on his way to effectively ending Manning’s career- T-Minus 12 months. Yep, Father Time is undefeated. Sometimes though, a transcendent athlete comes along and due to a mix of talent and willpower, challenges Ol’ ‘Father-T’ and puts up an epic fight. One such example(possibly the best example), is Kobe Bean Bryant.
Kobe is playing in his 18th season at the grizzly playing age of 36 years old. He debuted in the league in 1996 as a young, misunderstood 18-year-old teenager, who was the youngest to ever play in the NBA. Since then he’s been unstoppable and almost unflappable. He has five championship rings, an MVP award, is third all-time in scoring and just yesterday, was named an All-Star starter for the 14th and maybe final time, on the same day his season official came to an end.
As shown in the video above, Bryant went up for a two-handed jam Wednesday night in New Orleans, and came down immediately grabbing his right arm. He stayed in the game for a few more possessions and even shot left-handed showing his vintage competitive nature and willingness to play through pain. Yesterday it was announced he had a torn rotator cuff, an injury Kobe’s played with before, but today the Lakers announced that Kobe would miss the rest of the season due to surgery needed to repair the shoulder. This is the third straight season-ending injury for Kobe and at 37 years of age, this might be the end of the line.
The Lakers team he’s played for his entire career for is in more disarray than it’s been in franchise history. The team has the third worst record in the NBA and is second-to-last, defensively. Kobe has openly called out younger teammates a number of times and has gone on record as saying the team is ‘soft.’ Only three of those teammates of his are under contract for next season and the team is at risk to losing their 1st round pick to Phoenix if they don’t land the 1-4 range in the lottery.
The future is bleak for ‘purple and gold,’ and this may be the right time for Bryant to walk away. The team is further from the Finals now than at any time in Kobe’s career. He has daughters growing up and becoming teenagers. He has multiple business ventures outside of basketball. He’s never been good with the media, and he’s not been known to want the spotlight. Kobe isn’t someone who needs a planned ‘farewell tour.’ A mid-season injury might just be the thing that can bridge the gap between a life for Kobe with basketball, and life without.
Father Time is still undefeated.