At what point should an athlete call it quits? Each person reacts differently to the rigors of the NBA season. Is Father Time knocking on Kobe’s door?

Most athletes know when it’s their time, but some hang on too long and tarnish a storied career.

Is Kobe hanging on too long?

Kobe is one of the the greatest players to play the game of basketball, that’s a fact. He has five NBA championships and now sits third on the all-time scoring list.

However, he has recently seen more time in a suit during games than a jersey. It’s not easy to play as many years in the NBA as Kobe. He has been in the league since 1996.

Of those drafted that year only Steve Nash is on an active NBA roster, although Nash’s career is likely over due to injury.

Fellow 1996 draftees Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal have made themselves available to be signed.  Nash is on the verge of retirement, Allen has one year of juice left in his body and O’Neal will only be used as a defensive specialist.

The point is, unlike Kobe, none of these guys are trying to be the main option on any respective team they sign with.

Kobe was fresh out of high school when he got drafted, but the grinds of an NBA season take their toll. This season, Kobe is averaging 24.6 points for the Lakers, but the most surprising stat is he plays 35.4 minutes a night.

At 36, Kobe is no spring chicken.

The first pick in the 1996 draft Allen Iverson, played until he was 34. Iverson was 21 entering his rookie season, Kobe was 18. If Iverson was still in the league he would playing at the age of 38, so Kobe has the same mileage on his NBA body as a 38-year old Iverson.

Of course, Iverson took more hits than Kobe ever did in his career, but the theory is the same.

“My knees are sore… both my Achilles are sore. Metatarsals are tight. Backs tight”

That quote came from Kobe himself, who sat out the team’s Christmas day game against the Bulls. Coach Byron Scott has said he will cut Kobe’s minutes back once he returns, which will give Kobe the rest he needs.

He isn’t done with his NBA career, but he isn’t the player he once was, no matter how much he wants to be. Kobe’s contract is done after the 2016 season, and his career should be as well.

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