Beyond the Bison: Greatest Hits

Doug Hendry, Editor-in-chief

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With the NBA’s regular season officially underway, big storylines have been thrown around since the Golden State Warriors won the championship last June. One of those stories regards Kobe Bryant, who is entering his 20th season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 37-year-old has had one of the greatest careers of all time, being listed as one of the best players alongside greats such as Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Magic Johnson. But having played a full season just once over the past four years, including only 41 games over the past two seasons, nobody’s sure just how much the Black Mamba has left in the tank for a dismantled Laker squad.

Bryant carried Los Angeles to five titles since 2000, but injuries have derailed this team, sending them to the dweller of the Western Conference. It’s unfamiliar territory for Bryant, who expects to be the best and compete with the best, game in and game out.

But with two very young players in Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, and a below average backcourt consisting of Lou Williams and Nick Young, there might not be much chance for Bryant to end his career on a high note with a playoff run.

This might be the final season of Bryant’s illustrious career, and the fact that he has gotten here and is ready to play a full season after the events of the past two years is a testament to Bryant’s drive. Athletes always say they don’t want the game to determine when their career is over and Bryant is doing his best to conquer the game and control when it’s time to leave.

He might not be putting up the stats that he used to when he was in his prime and dominating his matchups night in and night out, but Bryant still plays a vital role on this team. This is a relatively young unit in a rebuilding stage, and after finishing second to last in the West for the past two seasons, the Lakers aren’t expecting a championship anytime soon.

Bryant’s role is now to be a mentor for the Lakers, which is certainly something teammates have claimed in the past that he is not good at. He’ll have to adapt to his new role. He’ll still be the fan-favorite in Los Angeles, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he is still the Laker’s best player this year.

As Bryant’s 2015-16 season begins, one thing will always be remembered about the NBA’s Golden Man of the 21st century: his demeanor on the court, both in the game and in practice.

Always a trash talker in practice and a focused animal during the game, there was no one who was going to stop Bryant from scoring on any given shot. Bryant believed he was the best on the court, and he still believes that. That mentality is exactly what has kept him on the court all this time.

That mentality is what has made the Black Mamba the most celebrated NBA player of this century.

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