Kobe Bryant’s Continued Dominance Cements All-Time Legacy

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles LakersThe current stretch of seven games has garnered the 34-year-old shooting guard the nickname “Vino,” which he has openly welcomed, as vino–or wine–gets better with age.

Additionally, Bryant has the most fourth quarter points (total) among any player in the entire league at 455.

Per fourth quarter (in which Kobe has played in 57), Bryant averages 8.0 points; which trails only Kevin Durant, who averages 8.6 points in 49 fourth quarters.

However, per 12 minutes in the fourth, Kobe averages 11.3 points; the next closest player being the aforementioned Kevin Durant at 10.6. (For edification, last season Kobe averaged 9.63 points per 12 minutes; trailed by Durant’s 9.55.)

After that, nobody even comes close. Not LeBron James (8.5). Not James Harden (9.0). Not anybody.

Now, let’s look at his scoring in the fourth quarters during the seven-game stretch: 11 points per fourth quarter (in six fourth quarters, since he sat out the fourth against Minnesota), and 14.4 per 12 fourth quarter minutes!

In that stretch, nobody comes even remotely close.

I didn’t put those numbers together to prove how clutch Kobe is, because we all know how dangerous he can be late in games, but rather to point out how remarkable it is that he’s performing at such a high level after three quarters of play, at his age and with as many miles as he’s accumulated on his body. (Although the pleasant surprise I found while researching fourth quarter scoring was how Kobe actually leads every other player–including the young superstars of the league–in that area. Anyway, back to the article.)

One knock on Kobe has always been that he takes too many shots to get his points. Well, over the course of the season, those league-leading 455 points in the fourth quarter have come on 47.3 percent shooting from the field, which is remarkably consistent with his overall percentage.

What about over the recent stretch? 63.9 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from behind the three point line!

That, right there, is absolutely insane.

With 17 seasons in the league combined with multiple playoff series and summers dedicated to Olympic play, it’s astounding that a player whose body has been through so much can somehow not only make it through end of games, but absolutely dominate them.

Even with the recent Reddit story detailing his crazy workouts during the 2012 Olympics and how his preparation allows him to perform the way he does, it’s still remarkable what Kobe’s doing right now.

Still, some may bring up LeBron James and his six-game streak of 30-plus points on over 60 percent shooting; he averaged 30.8 points on 71.7 percent shooting from the field, along with 6.7 rebounds and 6.5 assists.

That was simply historical, and I have no argument against that other than Bryant averages more points (35.1) and has similar overall stats (rebounds and assists) during his current stretch of God-like play.

However, that’s a 28-year-old, in-his-prime LeBron James.

When he, or anybody else can do what Kobe Bryant is currently doing in his 17th season in their 17th season, come and talk to me.

Next Page: The Black Mamba: A Different Beast Altogether

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