It’s one thing to even make it to the major leagues, but to have a long and illustrious career while you’re at it is a whole nother ball game and definitely worth noting. In the NBA, the average career length is 4.8 years, with many falling short of that mark and others going the distance and beyond.
With 5 NBA titles and having finished playing in his 17th NBA season, Kobe Bryant is one of the rare few that is approaching legendary status. In fact, when compared to a few others that were able to stretch their career this long, there’s a case to be made that Bryant may very well the longest consistently dominating player of all time.
Playing all 18 seasons of his NBA career for the Indiana Pacers, Reggie Miller has gone down as one of the most-cherished Pacers in the franchise’s history. Although never a superstar, over his career, he averaged 18 points per game. Miller’s peak was earlier in his career, though, as he only played 28 minutes in his 17th seasons, and averaged only 10 points a game.
He was dubbed “the Mailman”, and for good reason, because Karl Malone simply delivered, time and time again. Interestingly enough, Malone never really faltered and remained consistent throughout his career, posting 22 points and 10 rebounds a contest, with a career-high of nearly 2 steals a game.
Being the all-time leading scorer of the NBA isn’t an easy feat to achieve, and the fact that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in 20 seasons with an unmatched level of consistently is amazing to behold in and of itself. The 1985-86 season may have been his last greatest go-round tallying 23 points and 6 rebounds a night.
In comparison to these athletes that were about to make it and last for 17 years and beyond, Kobe Bryant isn’t doing too bad for himself. He’s second in the race for the scoring title, while adding 5 assists and 5 rebounds a game. Though his team has had some struggles this season, he’s leading the charge to turn things around for a late season playoff push.
Stacked up against other greats that were able to last this long, Kobe Bryant stacks up pretty well. With 5 rings and 17 years and counting under his belt, the only argument left is whether he can be considered the greatest to ever play.