As Kobe Bryant enters what he's calling "The Final Chapter" of his career, he's looking to several athletes for guidance, from Chauncey Billups to Michael Jordan (always). But he's also taking things from sports' reigning king, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Kobe discussed the final stages of his career. Most of what he's heard about rehab is hard work, nothing unfamiliar to one of the NBA's' hardest workers. But still, the explosiveness may never fully return, diminished as it may already be due to gargantuan mileage on his body (over 54,000 game minutes, and only he knows how many workout minutes).
He can't control how he comes back from injury, but he's got backup plans ready in case he's not all there.
“Maybe I won’t have as much explosion,” Bryant says. “Maybe I’ll be slower. Maybe I’ll lose quickness. But I have other options. It’s like Floyd Mayweather in the ring. There’s a reason he’s still at the top after all these years. He’s the most fundamentally sound boxer of all time. He can fight myriad styles at myriad tempos. He can throw fast punches or off-speed punches, and he can throw them from odd angles.”
Kobe has essentially used this model throughout his career. He's never been the biggest nor the strongest player in the gym, instead he prizes footwork and movement. We haven't seen Kobe really dunk in years (though he hit us with a few surprises last year), but he still finds his shot, one way or another.
This year, one would imagine, Kobe will go all-out old-man game, pulling from the Tim Duncan school of high percentage shots. Unfortunately, Kobe's from the school of high percentage of shots. This transition isn't going to be easy, particularly on an aging squad with a few recent additions to try to patch the framework.