Kobe is not the young kid on the block. In fact he is the oldest player on team USA by a full 4 years. Also, he is nearly 15 years older than the youngest player, Anthony Davis. Kobe is approaching 34 years of age rather quickly and he has been playing in the NBA for 16 seasons and countless deep playoff runs. I know he is used to playing mostly year round, but is his age going to catch up to him?
I think if you asked Kobe he would say that an Olympic gold medal is more important than a NBA title, but mostly because that is what he is supposed to say. Playing for your country should be more important to most people. The only people it really isn't more important to at this point is the Laker fans. Laker fans want Kobe to come into this upcoming season with a healthy body.
This offseason has already been filled with drama and intrigue for the Lakers. Can we trade for Dwight Howard and make another title run? Can Steve Nash find some youth and lead the Lakers like no point guard since Magic Johnson? So many questions that have answers that are sure to go unanswered until the season is over and we can reassess what transpired. The one constant that Laker fans have come to know is the play of Kobe. He may jack up some unusual shots, but don't we just assume they are going to go in anyways.
There is another thing that is going to come into play here and that is Kobe's desire to match Jordan and his 6 NBA titles. The competitor in Kobe wants to keep playing until he is 50, but his body won't be able to handle another 3 seasons at the rate he is playing now. He and the Lakers should start thinking about how the Spurs handled Tim Duncan the last couple years. I am not saying they need to rest him 20 minutes a game it's just his seasons of 40 minutes plus a game are over.
No Laker fans wants to admit that we may be seeing the back end of the greatest Laker career ever. I can't even imagine what the Lakers would be like without Kobe. These Olympics should show us what type of Kobe to expect this upcoming season. If he looks like he has lost another step during this off-season we may be in for a long year. Luckily for us, we do have more help this year than in past years.
Whatever happens during Team USA's run at the London Olympics one thing is most certain to happen. Kobe will show up for Lakers training camp ready to make a title run. The guy just wants to win at any cost at any level. No matter the fact that he is getting older. I would put him in a wheelchair and let him shoot turnaround jump-wheelchair-shots until he is 100 years old. With Kobe on the floor, no team should ever be considered a favorite. He still commands as much respect as he did 5 or 6 years ago.
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