In this day and age of the NBA, with free agency and trades such a major part of the landscape in basketball, a player remaining with one team for his entire career is rare. Kobe Bryant is a rare player, however, and tonight he put his name in the history books once again.
As Kobe begins his 20th NBA season for the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, he broke John Stockton’s NBA record for consecutive seasons with the same team.
It is truly a remarkable accomplishment for Bryant as playing 20 years at his level in this league is something no one has ever done. To this point, most of the NBA legends either played for multiple teams, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and Michael Jordan, or played with one team but for a lesser period of time, such as Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. For Kobe to combine that is a testament to his will to be the best.
It is coincidental that Kobe started this season against one of the few players remaining from his generation, Kevin Garnett. Kobe spoke about how amazing it is that both are still playing, but Garnett isn’t the player closest to surpassing Kobe.
If Kobe were to retire after this season there are two players right on his heels for this record. Tim Duncan is entering his 19th season with the San Antonio Spurs and Dirk Nowitzki is beginning his 18th season with the Dallas Mavericks. Either could conceivably hang around for a couple of extra years.
For now, however, basketball fans everywhere should simply celebrate Kobe in what could very well be his final run.