There has never been anything in the NBA that resembles Kobe Bryant.
While we’re at it, there’s never been anything in the NBA that resembles Kevin Garnett, or Jermaine O’Neal, or LeBron James, or even Brandon Jennings. The idea that a prep star could jump to the pro ranks is a recent phenomenon, if even that. The NBA allowed high school stars to make themselves draft eligible up until the 2006 selections, but that high-end allowance wasn’t given much consideration until 1995, when Garnett declined to take on the junior college ranks after his grades failed him, and became a top five pick and eventual starter in his rookie year.
The next season, Bryant and O’Neal followed suit. As did several others over the next nine years, until the NBA created an age limit. As a result, the league’s post-Michael Jordan generation featured scads of top players whose career arc could in no way resemble that of MJ’s. Or Magic’s. Or Larry Bird’s. Or even the movements of Moses Malone, who jumped from high school and straight to the ABA.
International play and longer postseason runs are the reason why. Shoe companies and out-of-ideas media shame players into taking part in summertime action, and the NBA chased down the dollars in adding more and more games to the league’s first round series’, creating a year-long extravaganza of ball that also might include exhibition games performed overseas.
As a result, you get a quote from Kobe Bryant – a player that has worked just six games since April of 2013 – like this:
Kobe’s not wrong. Even if you ignore his exacting offseason work schedule and sometimes pathetic attempts at showing off for media, the combination of his aversion to the NCAA, All-Star teammates, international play and long trips into the postseason have resulted in tread that no other player has known.
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