|Kobe Bryant is 16 lbs. lighter. (Getty Images)|
Know how you extend your career and maintain an edge at 33 (34 next month)? You work at it. But you don't just work hard, you have to work smart. And that's Kobe Bryant, who realized that coming off another long NBA season, this one on a condensed schedule, facing the Olympics and then another full 82-game season, he needed to do a little extra to prepare.
Which meant taking some weight off those knees of his. From the London Guardian:
Beyond experimental therapy, Bryant reveals how else his appearance has changed, losing 16 pounds to prepare his older body for the rigours of the Olympics followed by another run at his sixth NBA title. "With summer basketball leading directly into the season – and I'm expecting to play until next June – I have to take some load off my knees. I've got to shave some of this weight."
Bryant was listed at 205 last season by the Lakers, but that number's never accurate. He has looked thinner and leaner in Team USA exhibition play, though. The question will be if he maintains that weight how he'll do in the post, where he's been lethal the past few years. That's been a primary starting point for him in the offense, and even moreso under Mike Brown; losing muscle mass there could be an issue against bigger defenders. But if it signals part of his willingness to play off-ball with Steve Nash running the show, that could have huge dividends.
Bryant being able to cut faster for catch-and-shoot opportunities is huge. And losing weight will do that. For the most part, though, it's all part of Bryant's drive to reject the claws of time and play until he's good and ready to walk away.
Which feels like it will be never.