The start to Kobe Bryant’s 20th season hasn’t been pretty, not pretty at all. The 37-year-old is averaging 15.8 points, four rebounds and 2.5 assists per game on 32 percent shooting and 20.6 percent from 3.
It has been said from the get go this could be the Black Mamba’s final season in the NBA, and so far it has been looking like it. Bryant, who was ranked 93rd in ESPN’s NBA player rankings before the season, says he sucks and is probably the 200th best player in the league.
Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, however, disagrees. James says it’s not age as the reason for Kobe’s struggles, but a “personal challenge” that he needs to overcome.
From the Akron Beacon Journal:
I asked James about Bryant’s struggles this season and James laughed. “What I see is a challenge to himself,” James told me. “It has zero to do with his age. Zero. I think at one point in my career, in my 20s, I felt like I sucked. It’s all a personal challenge. I know him. He knows he don’t suck. C’mon man, it’s Kobe Bryant. But it’s a personal challenge to him. That’s all that is.”
It’s hard to see Kobe playing past this season, especially if he continues to play like he has been so far. James was asked if he plans to play as long as he can and past his production.
“All the respective greats try to play at the highest level they can,” James said. “I’m going to give it my all obviously until I can’t. One thing I won’t be, I don’t ever believe or think that I’ll be an embarrassment to my fans or my family.”