Simply put, Kobe Bryant has taken a beating over the course of his career. His unique career has given him the opportunity to content for a title nearly every single season of his 13 year career. This has made Kobe’s career so special. But with experience in success there is a toll. Kobe Bryant’s body is like a set of old tires that are 10,000 miles past tread. But you already know this. So I took some time to gather some statistics to display just how long and grueling Kobe Bryant’s career has been. These statistics are leading into and not including this seasons playoffs.
175 Total Playoff Games Played
Just to put this into perspective for you, another player drafted out of high school who entered the league 1 year before Kobe is Kevin Garnett who is also experiencing the effects of old age has played in a total of 73 playoff games. More than 100 fewer than Kobe Bryant. 6 NBA Finals experiences, 4 NBA Championships. 175 Playoff games played. That’s one hell of a resume. But it comes with a price. It can take a huge toll on the body of any athlete. In many ways Kobe and Tim Duncan share this problem. Duncan has played a total of 160 playoff games, and we have seen the effects of his wear and tear for several years now.
The only other player that matches the total playoff games stat is Shaquille O’neal with 203 total playoff games. But this stat comparison between these two players can be misleading. Historically players at the Center and Power Forward positions have been able to sustain longer careers because of the lack of athleticism needed for their positions. Guards and Small Forwards like Michael Jordan for example experience much more wear and tear than players like Kareem Abdul Jabaar who played 20 years in the NBA.
1,021 Career Games
That is an insane amount of games. People will usually look at the number of seasons a player has been in the league to prove durability. But the real statistic is number of games played. Yes Shaq has been in the league for 19 years, but he has only played 149 more games than Kobe because of all the games missed due to “injury”. Or laziness whichever you prefer. Only Shaquille O’neal, Jason Kidd, and Kevin Garnett have played in more regular season games amongst current active players.
2 Years of Basketball Madness!
When analyzing the wear and tear of Kobe Bryant the athlete, look no further than the past 2 calendar years. Summer of 2007 Kobe Bryant trains with the US Olympic team and plays in several Olympic qualifying games to help restore Basketball dominance in the U.S. In the 07-08 NBA season Kobe led his Lakers to the NBA Finals (21 post-season games) and lost to the Boston Celtics. A few months later (summer of 08′) Kobe travels plays in another 18 games including the Olympic games in China to help bring the Gold Medal back to the United States.
A pretty busy 1 1/2 year for Kobe Bryant right? Oh but he doesn’t stop there. He leads the Lakers back to the NBA Finals in the 08-09 Season (23 more playoff games) to help capture his 4th NBA ring. All that accomplishment and hard work in just 2 years time. That on top of a 10 year resume that already included 4 NBA Finals appearances and many, many playoff battles for the ages.
Nobody in the NBA has more wear and tear on his body than Kobe Bryant.
Nobody works harder at his game than Mr. Bryant.
And yet the guy is still somehow, despite all the odds competing for yet another NBA championship this summer. With all this you should however understand one thing. Kobe’s body may be failing him with a few big injures (ankle, knee, two broken fingers etc.) but his mental will and determination is what makes him a champion. Don’t expect any of this wear and tear to keep Kobe from winning number 5!
But it leaves us all wondering, how many years does Kobe Bryant really have left in the tank? Of course we would all love him to play forever. But even the games greatest eventually step down. I know I will be enjoying every second of the time this guy has left in his illustrious NBA career.
And remember these last 2 statistics when having your next G.O.A.T conversation. The great Michael Jordan played in 1,072 total career regular-season games and 179 total playoff games. Kobe Bryant will surpass him in both these statistics.