Sometimes a parent, child, or sibling reaching a milestone age can be more startling markers of the passage of time than your own birthday. That’s how I feel about Kobe Bryant turning 40 years old today.
I remember watching a 17-year old Kobe Bryant dominate at the Long Beach Pyramid back in 1996, as a giddy 15-year old who could hardly sleep that summer because I was so excited that the Lakers signed Shaquille O’Neal. Now he’s 40, married with three kids, and dunking on the venture capital world instead of foolish help defenders.
I guess this means I must be old too.
In this video, I look back on when we were both a bit younger, at one of the most amazing streaks in modern NBA history - nine straight games with 40 points or more.
Kobe’s 2003 season isn’t remembered as fondly as others because the Lakers didn’t win the title that year, but it was one of his best. He was at the height of his defensive powers and took his offensive game to another level as Shaq spent much of the beginning of the season healing on company time.
He averaged 30 points per game for the first time in his career, on 55.0 TS% (league average = 51.9 TS% that year) on 32.9 USG%. It was his 7th season, but he was still only 24 years old. That rare combination of youth and experience within the same player led to one of the most graceful and breathtaking scoring binges the league has ever seen.
Hard to believe that was over 15 years ago. Happy 40th birthday, Kobe.