Happy Birthday Kobe Bryant

Darius Soriano —  August 23, 2014

At its essence, basketball is a game of leverage and angles. The best players exploit physical and mental advantages to get to specific spots on the floor where the odds of success greatly outweigh the alternative. The amount of hours put in to achieve this mastery of body and mind to outplay an opponent is often what separates those who are considered very good in their era versus being considered very good for any era.

Kobe Bryant, whatever you think of him, has built his career on the idea that hard work and learning from his defeats and failures will get him where he wants to be. This idea is detailed wonderfully in this excellent longform piece by Chris Ballard that ran in this week’s Sports Illustrated. It is hard to argue with the results.

The piece linked above is well worth your time for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it is a snapshot in time at where Kobe is now, staring at his mortality as his career winds down. There are no more magic fixes from diet adjustments or extra workouts to put in that can reverse the impact of father time. And while the work will be done as diligently and with as much focus as it always has been, the fact remains that there is only so much work that can be done when you have already done as much as this man has.

I am thinking about this more today than others because, as the title of this post states, today is Kobe’s birthday. He is now 36 years old, entering into his 19th NBA season after being drafted as a 17 year old. You can do the math and see that Kobe has been an NBA’er more than half his life now, all those years soldiering for the team I root for.

Today, then, is as much a celebration for Kobe as it is for fans. He has given so much to the game he loves and, in turn, to us, the fans. Even if you hate him as a player, you will miss him when he’s gone. That, really, may be the quintessential statement about Kobe. He didn’t always do it the way you wanted him to, but by doing it his way he always gave us something worth discussing; worth marveling over. He may not have earned your cheers, but he certainly earned your respect.

With that, I’ll close with one of my favorite highlight clips of Kobe. It is titled “The Clinic” and has over 5 million views on youtube and targets plays from the 2007-2009 seasons. I love this video for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it captures the many aspects of Kobe’s game that reflect the work he’s put in. Sure, you see the athleticism, but you also see the footwork, the smarts, and the unrelenting attack style that his career has been built on. The video shows his genius as an all court player. Mostly, it shows the Kobe that I’ll mostly remember — devastating, driven, and the guy I loved to watch every night. Happy Birthday, Kobe.

Darius Soriano

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22 responses to Happy Birthday Kobe Bryant

  1. Flip Saunders sums up this trade perfectly…

    Flip Saunders on Kevin Love… “He was fenominal statistically.”

    Flip Saunders on Wiggins and Levine… “They have the potential to be two way players and you can’t win in this league without two way players”

  2. thank you Kobe!

    i think he still has a bit more to give…

  3. Happy birthday KB24!
    Can’t wait to see you lace’em up for 2014-15. Let’em rip!

  4. Happy Birthday Kobe Bryant!!

    The Black Mamba is BACK!!

  5. From a Fresh Faced 17 year old youth to a 36 year old Legendary veteran .. Damn, time really does fly by when you’re having fun. Much Respect given to Kobe on his BornDay.


  6. Happy, happy birthday, Kobe Bean Bryant! The thing I admire the most about you is the way your game developed from the very first game you played in with the Lakers until the year you got injured. I can’t wait to see what type of player you will morph into post 35 years of age. You had a singular point of convergence as a rookie to become one of the preeminent players in the NBA in my mind you’ve attained that pinnacle. Cheers to observing you as you venture to score the most points by a player in the NBA. Hopefully, along the way you’ll win one or two more championships.
    Happy birthday, Mamba!

  7. Sorry…I will not miss Kobe…Team is always better then an individual…Looking forward to watching a team then one person….Laker fan….not a Kobe fan….

  8. Darius: Have you heard of this guy? I just read about him on the flight back from the Big Island.


    You are killing me with the lumpia tweet!

  9. Gene

    Ya so how did that plan work out last year without Kobe?

  10. gene, so you think that Kobe doesn’t care for the team?
    ok, my eyes see otherwise. it’s just not possible to win if a presence like Kobe isn’t for the team. not even once.

    because i have loved the team since Wilt, West and Baylor, i’m thankful for players like those. i’m also thankful for Magic, Kareem and Worthy. likewise Shaq, Fisher, Horry, Nick the Quick, Fox, Ceballos, Elden, Vlade, Jones, the Ninja, Silk, Rambis, Hairston, Pau and many others, and yes, quite a bit of that thankfulness is for Kobe.

  11. Happy birthday Kobe! Without you on this squad we would have 5 less championship banners hanging in Staples. That would be one for Portland, Sacramento, another for Boston (ugh) and the Spurs…and one for DH12. Thanks for all the great memories over the years!

  12. Congratulations to Kobe on his name day. Mamba is 36 now.

    Might be good to note that its Jeremy Lin’s birthday as well.

  13. KO….with or without Kobe last season would’ve been a disaster….

  14. Happy birthday Mr. Bryant! Thanks for all the thrills you’ve given this Lakers fan. That video highlights just how artistic, precise and ballet-like his game is. Kobe is just the whole package as a player. Just so beautiful to watch! Yeah , he’s human and is certainly not without error. But, to me, The Bean epitomizes the artistry of the game of basketball.

  15. Happy B-day to Kobe Bryant. Here’s wishing you a healthy & productive upcoming season.

  16. Hope you had a great birthday Mamba. Love you brother!
    – also a happy b-day to JLin, you´re in good company dude (thanks Warren)

  17. Happy Belated Birthday, #24.

    I wish you a year of health, success, and happiness. Thanks for the great highlights. I wish you well.

  18. Some people are just sad. Anyways Happy Birthday to the Greatest Laker. Its been an awesome ride.

  19. Darius,
    just had the chance to read the SI piece, & you were right, it´s was well worth the time.
    2 things that stood out for me: the fact that Mamba´s training a lot with Wes Johnson, mentoring him in the process. That´s spells good news for Wes and us! &, Nash´s opinion on Mamba as a team mate, which Mamba loved, `M…… F…ing A……e´ !! hahaha

  20. thank god for gen(e) ious haters.
    happy returns Kobe.

  21. Thanks, Mud for that Instagram link.

    Darius, is not even an elite player but Kobe took time out to talk to him about being an NBA player. Darius, made some salient points about Kobe.